Evidence Based Fact Checked

Top 10 Processed Foods to Avoid and Good Tasty Alternatives

You would have heard that to avoid processed food to lose weight. But, the reality is somewhat very different.

Eating processed food for a long time can be a significant risk to your health.

What does processed food mean?

Processed food loses its natural state by adding chemicals, refined ingredients, artificial colors, flavors, and other synthetic components.

What is considered processed foods?

Processed foods often come in a jar or box. They contain a high amount of sugar, sodium, fats (including trans fat), and very low fiber.

Moreover, processed food also refer to canning, milling, freezing, and dehydration. This process is implemented to increase the shelf life of a product.

Just like eating a bowl of the bean within one day is normal, storing it in a can for one or two years is abnormal.

However, during processing, unhealthy fats like trans fat, sodium, and sugar are added to act as a preservative and increase taste buds.

The most common processed foods are ready-to-eat meals and snack foods.

How to start eating clean?

Most of them don’t know what “eating clean” really means—eating clean means to eat wholesome fruits and vegetables produced seasonally.

Always choose whole grains products over refined ones. Also, avoid sugar and other processed ingredients in your cooking.

If you have decided to eat clean, then prepare and cook food in your home.

According to Harvard Medical School, not all processed foods are unhealthy. Some foods require some processing to make edible.

Like, pasteurization of milk is essential to make it safe to drink. Also, pre-chopped vegetables and canned fruits in their juice are safe to eat.

It is good to know all the processed foods to avoid and good alternatives to adopt.

List of processed food to avoid

Processed Meat like Bacon, Pepperoni, Sausage

bacon naturallivingtips 1 - processed food to avoid

Meat can be part of a healthy diet until and unless it is unprocessed.

The processed meat like Bacon, Pepperoni, Sausage, Hot dog are all highly processed and modified to extend the shelf life and improve the taste buds.

According to IARC (World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer), all processed meat is unhealthy and carcinogenic to humans.

It means that it can cause cancer, such as colon cancer and other forms of cancer.

Also, the studies suggested that processed meat has a higher risk of heart diseases and diabetes.

Moreover, Harvard University has confirmed that processed meat intake can potentially lead to chronic diseases and mortality.

There is no such evidence that processed meat intake cannot have a considerable health impact in a smaller amount or occasionally.

Is eating bacon every day unhealthy?

Bacon contains a high amount of sodium and unhealthy saturated fats that can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

Additionally, store-bought Bacon contains an abundance of preservatives that can lead to serious health concerns such as cancer and headaches.

Is hot dog unhealthy?

The hot dog is a popular and highly consumable processed meat. This processed meat, such as a Hot Dog or Bacon, contains additives known as synthetic nitrates.

The work of synthetic nitrates is to keep the processed meat fresh and store for a longer time. But nitrates are carcinogenic and can lead to various types of cancer. Also, several studies have labeled processed food as harmful as cigarette smoking.

What are the best alternatives to processed meat?

You can replace processed meat with Avocado. It contains a healthy and right amount of saturated fat. Other than that, it is highly nutritious and can help in reducing the risk of heart disease.

You can buy fresh Avocados here.

Salad Dressing

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Salad dressing is similar to pasta sauce and ketchup pumped with sugar, trans fat, emulsifiers, and many other chemical ingredients.

Whenever you look for a store-bought salad dressing label, you will find the sodium content of at least 200 milligrams and the sugar content of at least 2 grams.

This amount of sodium and sugar in salad dressing is inflammatory and carcinogenic. It will lead to many health-related issues and, in the end, give rise to weight gain.

You will also find other harmful ingredients like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial flavors, dyes and preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and soy lecithin. These ingredients can give rise to different types of cancer.

What is an excellent alternative to a salad dressing?

An excellent alternative to salad dressing is the home-made salad dressing. You can easily make salad dressing at home from scratch.

You require a few items like olive oil, home-made mustard sauce, honey, and lemon (if needed). Mix these ingredients, and it is ready to mix with your salad.

You can buy virgin olive oil and organic honey here.

Granola and Energy Bars

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Granola bars or energy bars often seem healthy, but they are filled with sugars, calories, preservatives, and artificial ingredients despite their marketing claims.

The excess sugar in granola bars can increase the risk of many harmful diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Although it is marketed as healthy snacks when you look at nutrition, it does not value it. The label of granola bars lists down ingredient which is not only unknown but also difficult to pronounce.

What is an excellent alternative to Granola bars?

The best alternative to Granola bars is home-made granola bars. You can look for recipes that use less sugar, or instead of sugar, it is good to use Stevia.

Bread, Cookies, Pastries, and Cakes

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These bread, cookies, pastries, and cakes generally use refined white flour and other harmful ingredients that are only empty calories.

The empty calories present in bread spike your blood sugar significantly. Some bread brands you will find to last for more than two weeks. It is because of the presence of Potassium Bromate and Potassium Iodate.

This type of additives and preservatives are not only harmful but can also lead to many chronic diseases.

While making bread, it goes through grinding and processing, which kills all the nutrients of grains, and the only remaining part would be gluten. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, it doesn’t make any sense to consume it.

Similarly, cookies, pastries, and cakes contain empty nutrients that will quickly impact your blood sugar level.

Other than taste, these empty nutrients food doesn’t do any favors to you.

Also, these empty nutrient food most commonly contains refined sugar and trans fat that add empty calories. Long term exposure to these empty nutrients food contributes to many health-related problems and increases the mortality rate.

Also, watch out for other ingredients like hydrogenated oil, maltose, and dextrose.

What are good alternatives to bread cookies, pastries, and cakes?

It is better to put off this food from your life. Still, if you can’t get rid of this food, then the only solution is home-made bread, cookies, pastries, and cakes.

You should also note that home-made bread, cookies, pastries, and cakes should be free from any preservatives and additives.

While if you can’t make it in your own home, then look for the local baker and confirm the list of ingredients they will add to the bread. Further, as a standard rule, if the list is too long, try to avoid it.

Breakfast Cereal

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Cereal is considered to be healthy, right? Well, it depends totally on how it was made.

Most of the cereal companies use a list of ingredients and go through a whole lot of processing.

The biggest culprits are hidden sugar that has been studying under Global Consumer Reports across 32 nations.

Moreover, the grain used in cereal is highly refined, which is stripped of all its nutrients. So, to maintain the recommended nutrients, they are refortified.

However, several companies’ “extrusion” process to make cereal tasty and long-lasting alters the primary amino acid structure.

This makes all types of cereal Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO food, and this would be highly toxic to your health and can lead to various kinds of cancer.

In a nutshell, all types of breakfast cereals contain a meager amount of nutrients and fibers that aren’t worth considering foods.

What is an excellent alternative to breakfast cereals?

Looking for healthy cereal in the market would be the most challenging task. It is better to make your own cereal like granola or muesli mix at your home.

You can pick the ingredients of your own choice and limit the amount of sugar intake. Lastly, serve this cereal mixes with milk or stirred with creamy yogurt.

Refined Vegetable oils and Margarine

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Consumption of vegetable oil has increased dramatically by introducing a large amount of processed or empty nutrient foods.

All type of snacks or ready-to-eat foods is an excellent source of refined vegetable oils. Refined vegetable oils like corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil are high in Omega-6 fatty acids.

Several studies have confirmed that food high in Omega-6 fatty acids is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer.

The study has also shown that the intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids has led to increased oxidative stress.

Similarly, processed cheese and Margarine are usually made from refined vegetable oils. These are engineered food that is made to look, feel, and taste like butter.

Moreover, margarine solidification is achieved through hydrogenation, which level ups the trans fat in it. Trans fats are toxic to your body, and regular intake of trans fat will create havoc in your body.

While purchasing products, always look for “trans fats free” product, or the serving should not contain more than 0.5 grams of trans fats.

What are good alternatives to refined vegetable oils, Margarine?

The best alternative to refined vegetable oils is Olive oil, Coconut oil, and Avocado oil.

Also, an excellent alternative to Margarine is organic butter and organic Ghee.

Canned Soup and Bottled Fruit Juices

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Bottled fruit juices are commonly mistaken as a healthy food because it comes from fruits.

But, fruit juices are extracted by removing the fiber from fruits, and the bottled fruit juices come with lots of preservatives and additives.

When the fiber is separated from fruits, then the fructose quickly raises the blood sugar level.

Drinking fruit juice for a longer time will harm your body and can be dangerous for type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The antioxidant and vitamins in fruit juices don’t benefit your body because of high sugar content.

Similarly, canned soup is another convenient food that is high in sodium.

Also, lots of preservatives or additives are added to the canned soup.

It is better to avoid both canned soup and bottled fruit juices.

What are good alternatives to canned soup and bottled fruit juices?

Instead of bottled fruit juices, you can still have fresh fruit juices of Pomegranate or acai berry, but only in limited quantities.

Also, you can replace canned soup with home-made cooked soup. You can use chicken broth or vegetable stock for making soup. Also, most of the soup recipes don’t take more than 30 minutes.

Sauces like Pasta sauce and Tomato Ketchup

Tomatoes Ketchup NaturalLivingTips 1

Pasta sauce or jarred pasta sauce is filled with lots of sugar and high in sodium.

Also, the pasta sauces are full of preservatives, emulsifiers, and other undesirable ingredients.

These pasta sauces are entirely devoid of nutrients,s and the intake of these pasta sauces can put your health at risk.

Likewise, the tomato ketchup, one of America’s favorite condiments, is diluted with sugar and salt, which offer no nutrient value to your body.

You will find every single packet of ketchup contains at least 2 grams of sugar.

What are good alternatives to tomato ketchup and pasta sauce?

The best alternative to tomato ketchup is home-made tomato paste; mix it with vinegar and add some salt or brown sugar for taste.

You can also make home-made pasta sauce by adding fresh garlic powder and basil to it.

Carbonated Drinks like Colas, Frozen Desserts, and Ice Cream

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There are many reasons to avoid carbonated drinks from your life. The carbonated beverages contain an unimaginable amount of sugar that will rot your teeth and dehydrate your body.

The excess amount of sugar in carbonated drinks is detrimental to your health on many levels.

Also, the carbonated drink has the opposite impact on your body and mind because it fails to register the intake of calories, and we end up consuming more.

According to the study, excess sugar consumption can lead to fatty liver, risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other serious problems related to obesity.

Similarly, Ice cream and other frozen desserts contain lots of sugar and preservatives, which will worsen your system and put your body at risk of diseases.

What are the best alternatives to carbonated drinks like Colas, Ice cream, and Frozen desserts?

The best alternative would be home-made fresh juice in limited quantity. And even you can look for dessert recipes that use Stevia as a sweetener.

Refined Flour, White rice, and other Grains

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Refined flour, white rice, and other refined grains are also processed food that can add-up extra calories to your body.

Long term intake of refined flour and white rice will raise your blood sugar level and make you insulin resistant. Further, it leads to Type 1 Diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

What are good alternatives to refined flour and white rice?

The excellent alternative to refined flour is whole wheat or multi-grain flour. Also, you can replace white rice with red rice or brown rice.

You can also look for buckwheat or quinoa that are least processed.

The bottom line

These processed foods can harm your body and put your health at risk.

Most of this processed food contains chemicals, preservatives, or additives that can keep these foods fresh, attractive, and last longer.

Always look for labels and a list of ingredients before purchasing any processed food. If you find any of these words like refined, emulsifiers, sodium, additives, sugar, and trans fat, try to avoid these processed foods.

Make sure to make fresh and simple ingredients the focus of your diet. Always choose food wisely because health is in your hands.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is for educational purposes only, always check with your medical doctor before stopping any prescription medications or when implementing any dietary and lifestyle changes.

Healthlyious has strict sourcing guidelines, believes in trustworthy and reliable sources, and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, medical journal publications, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15328324
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18636564
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9844997
  • https://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.924977
  • http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/faculty/frank-hu/


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