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Real vs. processed foods: choosing what's best for you

Choosing real food instead of fast food. This means choosing lentils and beans over protein shakes. Raw nuts, not energy bars. Fruit, not cookies.

Okay, but what does that really mean and why is it the best, healthier choice for your body?

Choosing a diet that is based on whole plant products, you also unwittingly reduce or generally avoid processed products. These pre-packaged products with high content of hydrogenated oils, saturated with sugar, are associated with an increased risk of various diseases and problems, including diabetes, metabolic disorders, heart disease and even cancer.

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

What is whole food?

You’ve probably heard a lot about them.

Whole food is a term used in a very broad sense, but if you understand it correctly, you’re basically talking about food that consists of whole ingredients, which is food that isn’t processed. The whole vegetable diet «emphasizes vegetable products with minimal treatment, it is effective for stimulating weight loss and improving health».

But the benefits are far greater.

Whole plant diet is actually a form of food that not only emphasizes the minimum amount of processed food, but also limits animal products (or excludes them altogether), including: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, pulses, seeds and nuts, completely excludes refined foods, including refined sugars, white flour and processed (refined sugars, white flour and processed (refined) oils», also emphasizes the «quality of food products, giving preference to organic products of local production».

Photo by Tara Clark on Unsplash

What is processed food?

And what makes processed foods processed?

Again, the definition depends on who you talk about it with and what type of «processing» we are talking about.

For example, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines processed foodstuffs as products that have undergone any changes in their natural state, that is, any raw agricultural product that has been washed, cleaned, shredded, cut, shredded, heated, pasteurized, blanched, cooked, Conservation, freezing, drying, dehydration, mixing, packaging or other procedures that change food, depriving it of its natural state».

So, this means that, according to the USDA, the package of raw pre-disassembled color cabbage on the inflorescence is actually «processed».

However, the definition goes further.

Photo by Vitor Monthay on Unsplash

Next, the US Department of Agriculture defines a food product that is «processed» which «may include the addition of other ingredients such as preservatives, flavoring agents, nutrients and other food additives or substances permitted for use in food products such as salt, sugar and fats».

We’re almost done here!

The Institute of Food Technologists decided to include the terms «storage, filtration, fermentation, extraction, concentration, microwave oven and packaging» in the list of identifiers of processed food products.

So, in the end, processed food can mean anything but totally raw real fruits and vegetables. But that means you have to eliminate the grains, nuts and seeds that have been processed in some ways.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

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