Not All Processed Foods Are Alike
Avoid processed foods. It’s one of the most unchallenged dietary recommendations for anyone trying to lose weight or gain health.
The advice is not without good reason, of course. Numerous highly palatable, packaged foods line our supermarket shelves and now account for over 70 percent of calories eaten in the United States.
Most of those calories come in the form of refined sugars and solid fats (not to mention copious quantities of salt). At the same time, these foods are negligent in nutrient density having little protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals – that serve to satisfy, yet can fail on flavor.
Sometimes these kinds of foods come in layered varieties in what a few establishments dare to refer to as “meals” – pizza, potato chips, dips, hamburgers, french fries, and cookies, to be washed down with sodas, Frappuccinos, or smoothies.
There’s the formula for an obesity epidemic. It could be said that these products are obesity-designedfoods, having been created to be craved, eaten often, and overeaten because, just as they’re advertised, “you can’t eat just one.”
These are the reasons why “processed” has become the dirty word that it is today. But it wasn’t always a dirty word, and some processed foods can be particularly helpful for gaining nutrition.
Over the history of food processing, it’s been associated with delivering greater nutrition to all, according to Wayne Bidlack, Ph.D., a professor at California State Polytechnic University.
In some cases processing (such as when exposed to high temperatures) can decrease or damage some nutrients that are heat sensitive. However, processing can often enhance nutrient availability such as when lycopene from tomatoes is made more available in the form of tomato sauce, or when phytate (an anti-nutrient that binds to minerals) is removed from grains improving availability of iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
“People have to be nutritionally wise in their selection of processed foods,” Bidlack said. “We can change our diet and influence nutrition patterns by influencing food processing methods. The food industry only sells products people want to buy.”
Convenient & Nutritious
One of the ways is to purchase products that are nutritionally designed, rather than obesity designed.
The focus of these products is to nourish and satisfy, with quality protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as other health-promoting compounds from fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
For example, Fire Shaper recommends supplements that are formulated with the intent to nourish and satisfy. They also offer something that non-processed “whole foods” can’t provide: convenience.
While a Meal Replacement Shake might taste as delicious as a smoothie or milkshake they are not designed the same.
Convenience is a “huge factor” because most people who attempt diets, including those that limit all processed foods, fail, according to Zhaoping Li, MD, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and medicine from University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Worse yet, Dr. Li adds, too often people aren’t able to estimate caloric content, balance protein, carbohydrate and fat consumption and often fall short on vitamin and mineral intake, putting their health at risk.
Meal replacements can help break the cycle of dieting, unhealthy weight loss, and weight regain.
In short, one cannot lump all “processed foods” as being the same. Well-studied, nutritionally designed foods can even serve as equally delicious substitutes for obesity-designed regulars at the supermarket.