As researchers learn more about nutrition, they find that many food processing methods remove the nutrients that make food nutritious and tasty. While occasional consumption of highly processed foods can be balanced by a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and proteins, some food preparations are lacking in nutrition, and they may lead to negative health outcomes when consumed in large quantities or without additional nutrient-rich foods.
There are eleven foods that are particularly lacking in nutritive value, but the aim is not to eliminate them entirely but rather to understand how little they contribute to a healthy diet. Restricting food intake can cause disordered eating, so it is advisable to consume these foods in moderation while also eating nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which provide essential vitamins and minerals.
Processed foods, high amounts of trans and processed fats, and refined grains are among the nutrients lacking in the following foods, resulting in medical symptoms due to nutrient deficiency in the long term.
White bread is made from wheat bread flour that has been processed, removing the bran and germ. These parts contain essential nutrients and fiber that aid in digestion and provide nourishment. Opt for whole-grain bread instead of white bread, which has a more pleasant texture but less nutritional value.
Potato chips contain an imbalanced source of calories, mostly from oil and simple carbohydrates. Although chips with no preservatives can be a delightful indulgence, relying solely on them in a meal will leave the body craving vitamins, fiber, and protein.
French fries, like chips, contain nutrients, but they are high in oil, especially when deep-fried, which can lead to an excess of oil in the diet. Instead, use an air fryer with a small amount of oil or no oil at all to make crispy homemade fries with a low-salt content.
Fried chicken has a lot of breading made from white flour, oil, and salt, which are not harmful in moderation, but grilled or air-fried chicken is a healthier option if you’re already consuming an excess of these ingredients.
Processed meats lack nutrients and contain nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to increased cancer risk when consumed in excess. Whenever possible, eat fresh meat.
Margarine, which was developed as a substitute for butter’s saturated fats, can contain harmful trans fats, making it unhealthy. Reading the label or opting for less processed oil, such as olive oil, as a bread topper is a better alternative to cutting butter from your diet.
Frozen entrees can vary in quality, with some containing flash-frozen vegetables and cooked chicken with low preservatives that are a convenient way to eat. However, for premade meals, check the contents, particularly if you’re concerned about preservatives or colorants in your diet.
Boxed mac and cheese is often high in simple carbohydrates and fats and low in nutrients, although there are now versions containing whole grains, vegetables like cauliflower, and lower levels of preservatives and fats.
Baked goods, such as cakes and donuts, are delicious but high in simple carbohydrates and sugars, making them similar to candy, processed sugars. Eating too many baked goods can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. However, if you have a sweet tooth, you don’t have to give up baked goods entirely. You can opt for healthier versions made with whole grain flour, natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, and plenty of nutrient-rich ingredients like fruits and nuts.
In conclusion, while it’s okay to indulge in these 10 foods occasionally, it’s important to be aware of their low nutritional value and potential negative health effects. Whenever possible, it’s better to choose whole, nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. By making healthier choices most of the time, you can enjoy these foods as an occasional treat without sacrificing your overall health and well-being.