Over the past 30 years, the amount of processed foods we consume as a society has doubled (source). Many today are stuck in the mindset of picking up fast food burger instead of preparing their meals. While opting for fast food might save you some time, it’s a poor decision that will ultimately take a toll on your physical and mental health.
It’s no secret that processed foods such as those purchased from fast food burger joints are bad for your health. However, most people don’t realize just how bad it truly is. For a closer look at the hidden dangers of processed foods, keep reading.
What Is Processed Food?
Let’s first take a look at the definition of processed food. In short, it’s any type of food that’s commercially prepared for the sole purpose of being easier to consume. This may include adding artificial flavors, sugar, preservatives like high-fructose corn syrup, salt and even fat.
In addition to adding ingredients, processed food may also go through mechanical processes to achieve a more “consumer-friendly” product. For instance, cereals are made by pressing oats and grain at high pressure before mixing them with sugar and sending them through an extrusion machine. This machine neatly shapes the cereal into squares, ovals, etc. Unfortunately, extrusion limits cereals’ nutritional value; thus, turning it into a sugary snack rather than a healthy breakfast.
Danger #1 – Obesity
It’s estimated that nearly 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are considered obese. Because processed foods typically contain large amounts of sodium, sugar and other preservatives, consuming large portions of them will greatly increase your risk of obesity. Opting for natural, organic foods instead is a healthier option that will naturally get you back to a healthier weight.
Danger #2 – Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US, taking the lives of nearly 600,000 people each year. Studies have shown that individuals with diets high in processed foods are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Many processed foods on the market contain saturated fat and trans fat, both of which raise bad cholesterol levels and subsequently increase the risk of heart disease.
Danger #3 – Empty Calories
Eating a greasy fast food burger with fries might give you a “full” feeling, but unfortunately they offer little-to-no real nutritional value. Meals such as this are considered “empty calories” simply because your body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs to maintain proper health.