It’s all about eating right. But real food is the key to being healthy. More often than not the more processed a food the less nutritious it is. But processed food is more than boxed macaroni and cheese, potato chips and drive-thru hamburgers. It may surprise you to learn that whole-wheat bread, homemade soup or a chopped apple are also processed foods.
Some minimally processed food like pre-cut vegetables are quality convenience foods for busy people. “If you have to buy processed foods stick to ones that have the less amount of ingredients in them and those that you are able to pronounce, You have to look at the big picture” says Beth Jameson the Wellness Director of the Greater YMCA Of Naples. We all have to become detectives and read the ingredients list and review the nutrition facts panel. Food is complex and we all need to get to know it.
Processed food is essentially synthetic, heavy tampering and crafty modifications are necessary to make it taste real, even though it is not. Obviously, most foods we eat are processed in some way. Apples are cut from trees, ground beef has been ground in a machine and butter is cream that has been separated from the milk and churned.
But there is a difference between mechanical processing and chemical processing. If it’s a single ingredient food with no added chemicals, then it doesn’t matter if it’s been in the ground or put into a jar. It’s still real food.
However foods that have been chemically processed and made solely from refined ingredients and artificial substances, they are what is generally known and referred to as “processed food”. Processed foods are usually loaded with added sugar or its evil twin, high fructose corn syrup.
The more you eat of processed foods, the less you will get of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and various trace nutrients.
There are many nutrients found in whole foods that are not found in processed foods. The more processed foods you eat, the less you will get of these nutrients. Real foods like plants and animals, contain thousands of other nutrients that science is just beginning to grasp.
Maybe one day someone will invent a chemical blend that can replace all these nutrients, but until that happen the only way to get them in your diet is to eat whole, unprocessed foods.
Whether you are on a budget and need to prioritize your organic purchases, or you would simply like to know which type of produce has the highest pesticide residue and which do not. “The benefits of eating organic foods are that no pesticides and chemical fertilizers are used to grow the organic produce shipped to grocers said Beth. Organic foods may cost more but well worth the extra expense. The Dirty Dozen list of the fruits and vegetables tell the consumer what should be organically purchased. These are the 12 foods that consumers should always purchase in their organic form. Eating organic is definitely a worthwhile investment.
The Dirty Dozen List
3. Cherry tomatoes
6. Hot peppers
12. Sweet Bell Peppers
Eating fresh, whole, organic foods for optimal health is highly recommended. However, buying all organic isn’t always an option for everyone. So therefore choose produce that has to be peeled before being consumed is usually a safer choice if you are going to buy non – organic foods. The next time you go to the grocery store it might be a good idea to print out the Dirty Dozen list. Becoming happily “un” processed take some time it cannot happen overnight.
Also try to take advantage of your fresh farmer’s market they may not always be certified organic, but you can ask the farmer directly what (if any) chemicals they use on their farm. Better to buy rather buy loc al and fresh. Even if the produce has a few pesticides they are far better than conventional produce found in your supermarket that has been sprayed, picked before it’s ripe and then shipped 1500 miles or more to get to the supermarket. Fresh is always Best!
Stop in at the Greater YMCA of Naples and set up a consultation with Beth, she is more than willing to speak with members about exercise goals and designs exercise prescriptions that promote well-being, reduce risk and or reclaim health. It’s easier than you think to start eating healthy. Take small steps each week to improve your nutrition and move toward a healthier you.
Greater Naples YMCA | 5450 YMCA Road, Naples, FL 34109 | (239) 597-3148