What is a processed food?
Any food that has been altered from its natural state, either with other substances like sugar, salt, chemical preservatives or by physical means like freezing, heating in canning or blending. Not all process foods are harmful, some process is necessary to make the product safe. Like pasteurisation of milk and cheese.
Are there certain foods people generally consider unprocessed that are processed?
Yes, milk, cheese, bread, yogurt, frozen veg or fruit, smoothies, smoked salmon, cured meats, dried fruit
People might believe they should avoid them unilaterally, but are they all unhealthy?
No not all are unhealthy and actually like milk some are necessary to keep the food safe and free of harmful bacteria.
What should you look out for in processed foods to determine whether they’re unhealthy?
Unnecessary processing or over processing eg.friut smoothies instead of eating fruit in its natural form ie if there is a safe option to have the food in its natural form eg grapes over raisons or if too much salt or sugar has been added to say a ready meal again with the traffic light system on food labelling it is easier to avoid these foods by opting for the green coloured labels. Also another way of assessing is by checking the ingredient list. If sugar, salt, chemical preservatives appear within the top 5 then it is likely that food is not going to be the healthiest option. As ingredient lists are written in quantity order, so the most ingredient on the food will be listed first and the least last. E,g bread the first ingredient is always flour, because bread is mainly flour.
Why are processed meats unhealthy?
They are not if eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy diet. The issue occurs if over consumed as this can lead to over consumption of salt and/or fats. The Department of Health recommends that if you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day, that you cut down to 70g a day. This is equivalent to two or three rashers of bacon, or a little over two slices of roast lamb, beef or pork, with each about the size of half a slice of bread.