Health Tips
Take a Look at Your Processed Foods
Feb 17, 2014 - 12:01:25 AM

( - Take a look around the grocery store and try to spot the foods that don't have some kind of label. Imagining you'll have a tough time? The reality is, most of what we eat these days has been processed and packaged to some degree. Just as few among us sew our own pants, our modern lifestyles demand that we outsource the production of our food as well, and processing provides a profusion of accessible, shelf-stable, ready-to-eat foods.

Yet in the discussion of how to cultivate a healthier generation, our reliance on processed foods is often blamed for the host of chronic health conditions that plague Western civilization. Without doubt, much of this blame is well-deserved: many processed foods are stripped of the nutrients their original ingredients once possessed and contain additives we know to be linked to our chronic ailments when consumed in excess, namely fat, sugar and salt.

At the same time, many processed foods are just as nutritious as their whole counterparts; take frozen peas or rolled oats as examples. Dried pasta and canned beans bear brand names and ingredients lists, but they're also touted as the cornerstones of a healthfully stocked pantry. So what's a consumer to do? Eschewing anything with a label is simply not realistic for the majority of American consumers, but the fact remains that trying to determine which processed products are healthy everyday choices is a confusing endeavor.

This Monday, resolve to take a closer look at your food choices. Try to incorporate some of the following tips on following a less-processed diet:

Remember that learning the difference between whole and processed foods-and learning which processed foods can still be healthy choices-is challenging even for the savviest consumer. As you continue to read labels, scrutinize ingredients and learn more about where your food comes from, healthy-eating decisions will eventually become second nature. It's...well, a process!

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