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10 Healthy Processed Foods

10 heathy processed foods

nutritious things will make the food better tasting

Published: May 19, 2022

Category: Educational

In today’s world of nutrition, eating healthy is a household and national topic.  To help stimulate our conversations, our Federal Government has been providing us with nutritional guidance for about 100 years.  In addition, our Government has advised us on both good and bad things to eat.  For instance, processed foods are generally labeled as unhealthy choices. However, not all processed or treated foods fall under this category as some are actually beneficial to our health.  When it comes to the best healthy food preparation, nutritionists recommend preparing meals from scratch with the freshest ingredients. Using the most nutritious things will make the food better tasting and healthier.

Most of us live busy lives and are far from farms growing the food that we eat.  Thus, we rely on grocery stores to stock our pantries and freezers with healthy food. Due to high levels of salt, sugars, and other chemicals, many believe that processed foods should be avoided. However, claims that all processed foods represent junk food do not ring true, and for this reason, certain ones should be included in our daily diet.

What are Processed Foods?

Simply said, the term “processed” refers to altered foods or foods that are changed from their original state. Food processing methods include canning, freezing, drying, and pasteurizing. Hence, the majority of what you buy in supermarkets has been treated in some form, including some foods picked right off the vine. As an example, many processed fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are altered.

Processed foods are food products that have been altered and changed, according to food experts. Some examples are shelf-stable biscuits, chips, lollipops, pastries, frozen pizzas, ready-to-eat meals, soft beverages, and ice creams. These foods are normally super-sized and widely advertised. They often consist of a large ingredient list.  They are also heavy in salt, sugar, fat, and high in calories.

Different Methods to Process Foods.

Milk requires processing to make them safe to drink. Milk needs to go through pasteurization to kill germs. Frozen fruit and vegetables even retain most of their nutrients during processing. Canned food offers year-round readiness, ease of storage and preparation, less waste, and cheaper pricing. “Processed” does not always mean the food equals good or bad nutrition for you.

Beneficial Processed Foods

Breakfast cereals

Processed cereals are a pantry staple for most people due to their long shelf life. You should choose items with a health star rating on the carton instead of high-sugar and high-salt types. Health star-rated foods are vitamin and mineral enriched, quick, simple, and high-fiber breakfast choices.


White bread has been processed to contain much less fiber than wholegrain bread. Because of its higher fiber and heart-healthy lipids, whole grains qualify as a medium glycemic index food. Whereas, heavy wholegrain bread-like soy–linseed or mixed grain remains the healthiest option.

Milk and yogurt

Milk represents an excellent source of bone-strengthening calcium. While yogurt provides bacteria that are good for your stomach as well as calcium. Pasteurization destroys some potentially hazardous bacteria, and homogenization gives milk its smooth and creamy texture.

Microwavable rice and quinoa

These pantry warriors include a one-year shelf life and are a good source of starchy carbohydrates. Whole grain types with added fiber are increasingly available. Try to avoid flavored variants because they tend to include additional additives and a lot of salt. Always read food labels for nutritional information.

Packaged cheese

Milk, salt, starting culture, and an enzyme are needed to make natural cheese. High-quality natural cheese plus emulsifiers are used to create processed cheese. During the cooking process, cheese emulsifiers prevent the fat from separating. This also aids in the preservation of the cheese’s flavor, texture, and smoothness. Choose a salt-reduced/low sodium type to help manage your salt consumption.

Canned legumes

Canned foods seal under high pressure, and keep their nutrients.  Making many of them as delicious as fresh food. Canned beans are one of your five daily vegetable servings. According to the USFDA, five daily vegetable servings contain both canned and frozen options. Just make sure you buy the low-salt versions.

Canned fish

Increase your omega-3 fat intake by eating two to three servings of oily fish each week. Some good choices are sardines, tuna, and salmon because there are only a few added ingredients. Others add unhealthy oil or salt, so read the label carefully. The American Heart Association suggests eating two servings of fish every week. Frozen fish (typically frozen aboard boats straight after the catch) is just as tasty as fresh fish. Unless you are bagging your own salmon.

Ready-made meals

Ready-made meals are often cited for being high in fat and salt and poor in fiber. Choosing a healthier, ready-to-eat meal normally provides a healthier meal than ordering takeout. Also, the label can assist you in determining proper portion sizes.

Frozen fruit and vegetables

Frozen fruit and vegetables, which count toward your two-and-five-a-day requirement. They are high in nutrients and often more than fresh food stored in the fridge for a week. Because they are frozen right after harvesting, they also keep vitamin C or folate in the food.

Packaged salads

Looking for a way to save time during the week? Make your way to the produce aisle. You can select precut fruits and vegetables, such as packaged broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots. You can eat them raw, microwave-steamed, or added to a soup. Salad kits remain a popular choice as well. Select a package that includes heart-healthy toppings such as almonds and seeds.

Ways to Avoid Bad Processed Foods

Always read the label. Highly processed foods consist of a large list of ingredients with terms you can’t pronounce. Avoid anything with salt or sugar in the first few components. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Because most processed items sit in the center aisles. Soft drinks, candies, and biscuits are in the middle of the store. Look to the outer aisles for your most nutritious food choices.

Raid the freezer section. Frozen pizza and tubs of ice cream are not the only items in supermarket freezers. Fruit and vegetables in snap-frozen packets are less expensive than fresh.

Make smarter snack choices. Sometimes a chocolate bar or a bag of salty crackers may appear as a good snack.  However, a handful of almonds or a tiny cup of yogurt are better choices. Or better yet a piece of fresh fruit is a great choice.

The Bottom Line

Processed foods differ from foods that are harvested and sold to consumers in their original state. Highly processed foods or ultra-treated foods are higher in calories, salt, fat, and added sugars. They also contain chemicals like flavor enhancers and thickeners. In a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, we should always limit ultra-treated foods, but not avoided totally. You should eat a completely balanced, nutritious diet consisting primarily of whole foods. And occasionally indulging in your favorite snacks, candy, and/or other highly processed items.