When we think of processed or refined foods we typically think of white sugar and white flour…foods that are currently defined as ‘bad for you’.
The current nutrition wisdom is that a diet high in processed and refined foods is bad for you, can decrease your health, and lead you to an early grave.
While it’s always fun to label something as the ‘Darth Vader’ of foods…let’s take a closer look and processed and refined foods.
A quick google search would tell you that processed foods are to be avoided AT ALL COSTS.
you will find statements like this:
The more a food is processed, the fewer nutrients remain. In some cases, additives or preservatives are added and can act as toxins in the body.
Wikipedia describes “processed food” as any food that is changed from its natural, raw state. And while this sounds ‘bad’ (funny how that happens), let’s take a look at 5 examples of EXTREMELY processed and refined foods:
- Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
- Protein powders
- Fish oil
- Powdered green drinks
- Egg whites
I’m sure that we could argue about the degree to which these foods will benefit your health, however I am equally sure that we can agree that these foods are not completely bad for you, and will most likely NOT lead you to an early grave.
The truth is, processing has made the world’s food supply much safer to eat.
I live in southern Ontario, where 2008 was a particularly bad year that included a listeria outbreak, multiple salmonella outbreaks and an e. coli outbreak.
These outbreaks are typically prevented from well controlled food processing techniques.
Processing kills pathogens, and extends the shelf life of food. Processing even increases the bioavailability of some nutrients, such as lycopene, found in tomatoes.
The bottom line is that most of us could benefit from eating a little less sugar, and more fruits and vegetables. However, the hysteria building around the words ‘processed’ and ‘refined’ is unfounded, and is one more thing that we are being asked to obsess over in our already overly complicated world of nutrition advice.
Do your best to eat high quality foods, but be wary the extremist view of avoiding ALL processed or refined foods.