Ah, processed foods. It’s like that bad relationship we can’t quite get out of – we know we shouldn’t but we keep coming back for more.
We love the convenience it brings yet we don’t really understand what goes into it. But knowing what goes into processed foods helps us make better choices.
Read more: 3 Easy Steps to Clean Eating
Though not all processed foods are bad, these are 5 processed foods you should steer clear of:
Processed meat is meat that has been preserved through the process of smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. These include ham, bacon, salami and sausages. Processed meats are high in saturated fats, sodium and nitrates. Nitrates interact with compounds in meat that have been linked to cancer and lung disease.
Instead: Get creative with your sandwiches, try chicken, tuna or hard-boiled eggs.
Soda & Energy Drinks
High levels of sugar and caffeine, the use of artificial flavouring, sweeteners and preservatives. Sodas have zero nutritional value and have been linked to serious health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Instead: Water is the best beverage. But if you want something with a little flavour, try 100% cold pressed juice or fruit infusions.
Breakfast cereal sounds like a healthy, wholesome choice but only if you choose wisely. Most ready-to-eat breakfast cereals contain high levels of sugar and little fibre and protein, only to cause sugar spike and crash before lunch time.
Instead: Choose cereals that are less processed and contain whole rolled oats, nuts or seeds like muesli and oatmeal.
Canned soup, tinned vegetables and sauces are loaded with sugar, sodium and preservatives. Though convenient, these pre-packed foods should be used far and few between. With a little planning, you’re better off making your own soups and sauces from scratch, they’ll taste a lot better too!
Instead: We like fresh produce best but if we had to choose then frozen vegetables over canned ones. Get fresh pre-made sauces from a trusted grocer, fresh sauces have a shorter shelf life as they don’t contain preservatives. Invest in a slow cooker for home-made soups.
Air-popped and eaten plain, popcorn is a healthy wholegrain snack. But microwave popcorn comes with chemicals, that line the nonstick coating on the inside of the bag, that have been linked to cancer.
Instead: Pop your own corn on your stove top and season with sea salt, honey or unsalted butter.