Processed food dates back to prehistoric ages when crude processing incorporated slaughtering, fermenting, sun drying, preserving with salt, and various types of cooking.
Processing is used today to transform raw clean ingredients, harvested or slaughtered and butchered components into attractive and marketable food for consumption by humans or animals.
Common food processing techniques include:
Some benefits of processed foods include toxin removal, preservation, improving flavor, easing marketing and distribution tasks, and increasing food consistency while at times adding extra nutrients.
In addition, it increases seasonal availability of many foods, enables transportation of delicate perishable foods across long distances, and makes many kinds of foods safe to eat by removing the micro-organisms. Modern supermarkets would not be feasible without modern food processing techniques, long voyages would not be possible, and military campaigns would be significantly more difficult and costly to execute.
Modern food processing also improves the quality of life for allergists, diabetics, and other people who cannot consume some common food elements.
Processed foods can be lower in nutritional value
In general, fresh food that has not been processed other than by washing and simple kitchen preparation, may be expected to contain a higher proportion of naturally occurring vitamins, fiber and minerals than the equivalent product processed by the food industry.
Foods which have been processed tend to include food additives, such as flavorings and texturizers, which may have little or no nutritional value, or be unhealthy. Some preservatives added or created during processing such as nitrates or sulphates may cause adverse health effects.
Foods processed also often have a higher ratio of calories to other essential nutrients than unprocessed foods, a phenomenon referred to as "empty calories". Most junk foods are processed, and fit this category.
A diet composed of high levels of foods which have been processed is definitely an unhealthy diet. This type of diet will be lacking in nutrients, will be high in fat content, salt, chemical additives, carbohydrates and calories.
Many of todays ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, etc can be blamed on a diet high in processed foods and vitamin and nutrient supplementation is strongly recommended.
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