preserved and processed food

The truth behind preserved and processed food

Is your kitchen filled with ready to eat food? Do you often eat instant noodles? Do you grab a protein bar when getting late for work? Has frozen food become your go to party snack? Have cake packets made their way into school lunch boxes? Are their crackers and microwave popcorn in your kitchen? I’m sure there are biscuit packets too!

Today I have news for you. You have been sold a lie. A lie that these preserved and processed food products are safe. That when in a hurry, you can pack ready to eat meal bowl instead of some homemade food and that it’s the same. Well, it’s not. You must have seen ads claiming that there is the goodness of Chapati in a bowl of cornflakes. Again it’s a lie. Protein Bars are as healthy as a you meal. Perhaps healthier. Not true!

So why don’t we do a little fact check today. And this is your plate of homemade food that comprises vegetables, lentils, carbohydrates, dairy, and pickle. Did you know pickles a probiotic? They do just what your little bottles of probiotic drinks do. What about your packet of protein bar? Can it replace this plate? You’ve been made to believe it can? Protein bars are micronutrients, natural sweeteners, healthy fats, high fiber, and all that jazz protein bars we think are healthy. Think again! Because they’re not anything that is packed, processed, and preserved cannot be healthy.

You know what the healthiest people in the world, people who live in the blue zone. These are five pockets around the world where people live the longest. I’m talking about Okinawa in Japan, Ikaria in Greece, the ogliastra region in Sardinia, Loma Linda in California and, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. These are the five blue zones and here people routinely live more than 100 years as opposed to the average lifespan which is 73.4.

So the people living in Blue Zones must be doing something right. What do you think they ate? Yogurt cups bought from stores, packaged oatmeals, ready to make breakfast smoothies, low fat almond and soy meal, well none of these! People living in these blue zones eat home food, they eat locally sourced fruits and vegetables. People in Blue Zones stick to time-honored recipes food that has been passed on to them from their ancestors. Our traditional food is our health food. There is no need to consume healthy fats from packaged foods when coconut oil and clarified butter already charge your home food with healthy fats. Why do you need multigrain cereals when homemade roti is a fiber packed? Our traditional food has medicinal qualities. You may recognize this ingredient, it’s turmeric and it is antioxidant and the cardamom has antioxidants and cancer fighting properties. It also prevents cavities. Cinnamon introduces cholesterol levels and also reduces the risk of heart diseases. Cumin helps lower blood sugar levels while coriander seeds have antifungal properties.

Packaged food or homemade food

Can preserved and processed food replace these spices, the answer is no and I will tell you why.

  1. The ingredients are questionable.
  2. The hygiene is questionable
  3. Packaging itself is often harmful.

Let me explain this by using some of the most common packaged foods in our kitchens. Let’s start with the ingredients. Most packaged foods have three common ingredients preservatives, excess salt, and color. And let me tell you all three are bad for you. Preservatives end up killing the good bacteria in your body, they can trigger breathing problems also make children hyperactive, weaken hot tissues, and in extreme cases cause cancer.

Which food items have preservatives? Almost everything that is packed. This includes your cereals, biscuits, crackers, breads, ready to eat meals, cheese, yogurt, meats, sauces, soups, everything. Ask yourself a question. What is the shelf life of a homemade batch of cookies? Two to three weeks max if kept outside the fridge! Then how is it that your biscuit packet stays intact for months even years? Because it comes with chemicals, chemicals that extend the shelf life but reduce yours. Same is with the heat and eat meal. A lot of us resort to them these days and understandably so our lives are busy. There isn’t enough time to cook three fresh meals a day so microwave meals have become common. They’ve replaced traditional meals for some people at least.

In India, the frozen food market is worth $1.2 billion. You know what’s amusing? A lot of these ready to heat packets can be kept in the room temperature for months. Imagine the amount of preservatives that go into making these packaged meals. Same with packaged bread packaged cakes and everything else that is industrially packed. Salt too is a preservative. Most of the packed items including chips, noodles, and fries are loaded with salt. It extends their shelf life it enhances their tastes but at what cost? Salt has sodium and consuming too much sodium increases your blood pressure, the risk of stomach cancer, heart diseases, and premature death. I’m guessing for a lot of you cheese and bread have replaced your traditional breakfast. But is the habit sustainable?

Also read; how to get back your blood pressure to normal immediately?

What you should do?       

Should you continue eating packaged food even after knowing its downside? Is it worth risking your health? So what do you do? Cook three meals a day while also juggling work and life. That’s far from what I’m suggesting.

The point of this article is to tell you that you should reduce the intake of packaged and processed food, realize how some of the most common items in your kitchen can be harmful for you. Those colorful cereals that you eat every morning, their food color, and food color has acrylamide. It’s a chemical that’s not good for your health. It causes cancer.

You know what else has food color? Packaged bread, cakes, and biscuits? How do you think some of those biscuits are unnaturally dark or orange or pink? How is it that they come with colorful creams? Show your homemade snack looks dull in comparison, but it’s safer. How many of you regularly munch on microwave popcorns? Do you know the popcorn bags aligned with PFC are perfluorinated compounds. What these compounds do is prevent oil from seeping through the popcorn bag which is good. But when heated, these compounds break down into chemicals and these chemicals may cause cancer. You see we are told very little about this side of packaged food because they save time because they’re tasty because they come to our rescue and we conveniently assume that they’re also safe.

It’s better to eat that homemade food than preservative filled cereals for breakfast. We know very little about the ingredients that go into making packaged food. And I’m sharing about the real ingredients, not the ones that are listed on the packet. We know very little about the hygiene situation of the place where these food items are made and processed. Earlier this month, salmonella was found in the world’s biggest chocolate factory. The factory was producing Swiss chocolate some of the finest Swiss chocolates. Long story short, it is time to rethink what we take for granted, it’s time to reconsider the food in our kitchen. I know that it’s not possible to throw out every package preserved or processed food item from your kitchen, but you can always limit their consumption. So if you’re looking to stay healthy, if you’re looking to stay fit, if your goal is to take care of your body, then do what people in blue zones do, maximize the intake of homemade food!