Bagged spinach, cut veggies, canned nuts. What do they all have in common? Well, they are minimally processed foods. Other healthy food staples that have been processed include canned tomatoes, beans, and frozen fruits and veggies. Fortified juices are also considered processed. But are these foods bad? NO! And the reason is this is simple--- these foods are simply prepared and packaged, usually at the peak of season with little additivies. Frozen produce, for example, has the same nutrient content as fresh. Even better? They're often cheaper and you can buy your favorite fruit that may not be in season otherwise. As a personal example, I love frozen mangos for these reasons:
- A fresh mango is costly and can be hard to find year round.
- I don't have to worry about it going bad. I can take out as much mango as I need then pop it back in the freezer. How easy is that?!
- Frozen mangos are already cut up. If you're a fellow mango-enthusiast then you, too, must know how hard it is to cut up a mango. I'm always scared I'll chop of a finger!
- Limit frozen TV dinners and pre-prepared boxed meals--- these foods are the most processed!
- Avoid foods with trans fat; trans fat has absolutely no health benefits
- Watch the sodium! Keep in mind that a serving of salt is 1 tsp/day, or 2,300 mg.
- Rinse your canned veggies and beans
- Look for added sugar in the least expected places. Even breads can have added sugar to aid in a brown hue. The first couple ingredients of your whole wheat bread should not include maltose, cane sugar, or honey.
- Pick foods that are not packed in oil or syrups