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  • Tips on managing Stress
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  • What muscle soreness really means
  • Learn how exercise affects your mood
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  • Weight loss and diet myths revealed
  • Flexibility, how and when to stretch
  • How to build personal motivation
  • How to conquer procrastination
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Sign up to the get fit newsletter
Sign up for the ''Get Fit'' Newsletter
  • Tips on managing Stress
  • Ways to stay motivated
  • The benefits of resistance training
  • How to improve your metabolism
  • Learn why "conventional" diets fail
  • How to target stubborn fat areas
  • Healthy and tasty recipes
  • What muscle soreness really means
  • Learn how exercise affects your mood
  • How to choose the right health club
  • Weight loss and diet myths revealed
  • Flexibility, how and when to stretch
  • How to build personal motivation
  • How to conquer procrastination
Email:
Name:
This Month In Diet
  • Going Meatless
    Great as it is, meat isn’t all good. Recent studies have revealed health risks associated eating a lot of red meat. How can you eat less meat but still get the nutrients your body needs? Read >>
  • A Quick Fix or Failure?
    Fad diets are popular because they offer a quick fix. Unfortunately, these fixes often become failures in the long run. Here are six reasons why. Read >>
  • Your Nutrition No-No List
    A food that is processed merely means the food has been changed in some way from its original form. They're not all bad, but when they're bad, they're really bad. Be smart and leave any foods with these seven ingredients on store shelves. Read >>
  • The Cost of Freshness
    When you come across preservatives listed on the ingredient label, should you leave it on store shelves or is it safe for your family to consume? Can preservatives be trusted? Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Your Nutrition No-No List

Recognizing the most unhealthy processed food ingredients.

You know that whole foods are the healthiest, that foods in their most natural form without any added ingredients contain more fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and nutrients. But what about processed foods? Are they all bad?

A food that is processed merely means the food has been changed in some way from its original form. Minimal processing means the food has been frozen, chopped, packaged, canned, or cooked. While changed in part, the food still contains most of its natural nutrients. More highly processed foods have ingredients added and/or nutrients removed. Highly processed foods are junk food and have no part of a healthy diet.

When doing your grocery shopping, check ingredient labels. Be smart and leave any foods with these seven ingredients on store shelves.

1. Added Sweeteners

Most highly processed foods are filled with added sugars. Added sugar isn’t just found in sodas, cakes, and cookies. It’s found in bread, yogurt, fruit drinks, snack foods, and salad dressings. Because sugar is high in calories, a diet high in sugar is linked to weight gain.

As if weight wasn’t a big enough problem, sugar also causes inflammation in the body, which contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar. Consuming too much sugar puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes, cancer, fatty liver disease, and tooth decay.

To prevent these problems, men should consume less than 37 grams of added sugar a day and women less than 25 grams a day.

2. Artificial Ingredients

Synthetic food colorings, artificial flavors, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners (aspartame or sucralose) are found in many processed foods. These ingredients are man-made chemicals, not naturally occurring foods. Some artificial ingredients are actually made of multiple chemicals.

Look on an ingredient label and you may see dozens of chemicals you can’t pronounce. Those aren’t natural ingredients. And many of these artificial ingredients are banned in certain countries due to their possible negative health effects, including chromosomal damage, neurological damage, cancer, and asthma.

3. Refined Grains

A refined grain is one in which the bran and germ (the nutritious parts of the grain) have been removed. Often labeled as enriched wheat flour, white flour is high in simple carbs and low in fiber and nutrients. Food manufacturers like refined flour because it has a longer shelf life. You’ll find refined grains in breads, cereals, cookies, cakes, pastries, snack foods, and pastas. Leave it on the shelf and not in your home!

4. Imitation Foods

They may look like the real thing and even taste like the real thing, but imitation foods are highly processed and made mostly of man-made chemicals. Examples include processed cheeses, pancake syrup, margarine, and lemonade powder.

5. Factory Farmed Seafood and Meat

Meat and seafood raised on a factory farm live in crowded, dark, unhealthy environments. They’re often fed unnatural diets and given antibiotics and hormones to grow quickly.

Chickens, pigs, cattle, turkeys, salmon, catfish, cod, and tilapia are often raised in factory farms. When buying meat of any type, look for free-range, organic, or wild-caught.

6. Processed Meats

Highly processed meats may increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and deli meats may be inexpensive sources of protein that are easy to prepare, but they’re also high in sodium, saturated fat, and preservatives.

7. Fast Foods

Finally, you can’t get much more processed than most fast foods. Even salads and other seemingly healthy foods are filled with added sugars, preservatives, additives, artificial ingredients, sodium, refined grains, and unhealthy fats when coming from a grab-and-go restaurant.

For this and many other reasons, fast food should be on your no-no list.