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Healthy processed foods

healthy processed foods frozen vegetables healthy

Processed food has long been considered terrible for health and wellness, thanks to studies that link consumption to an increased risk of illness in later life.1 However, any food that’s been substantially changed during preparation can technically be considered processed.2 That means some healthy options too!

There are plenty of processed foods available on shop shelves which enhance health and vitality, more than hinder them – and we’re going to tell you what those foods are.

What is processed food?

Processing food is as simple as chemically altering it during preparation. Any food that’s frozen, canned, baked, or dried can be considered processed.3

Common processed foods include:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Bread
  • Oils, like olive and coconut
  • Sweet bakes, like cakes and biscuits
  • Tinned fruit and vegetables
  • Crisps
  • Pasty dishes like pasties and sausage rolls
  • Cured meats
  • Milk
  • Juices

9 of the worst processed foods and healthy alternatives

We’ve put together a list of 9 of the worst processed foods and the healthy alternatives you can swap them for.

Why is processed food unhealthy?

Processed food is poorly considered among those who are health-conscious, because fats, salts, and sugars are often added during processing.

However, when most people think of processed food, what they’re actually considering is ultra-processed foods. These are typically a combination of oils, flours, and proteins, combined with additives and emulsifiers, that are then packaged as snacks. Studies have connected ultra-processed foods with over-eating, weight gain, and age-related illnesses.4

Processed foods that are good for you – and why

Support your vitality while enjoying a snack, when you choose these processed foods with health benefits:
 

  • Greek yoghurt

Yoghurt is generally considered a healthy processed food. Still, when it comes to the health benefits of yoghurt, you can’t do better than Greek.

Greek yoghurt has double the protein and half the sugar as conventional yoghurt, providing a more significant health boost per mouthful. The live bacterial cultures in all yoghurts are positively connected to lower cholesterol, support immunity, and support bowel movements.7

  • Breakfast cereals

Healthy, wholegrain breakfast cereals include fibres, vitamins and minerals which encourage digestive health.8 Check the label for options without added sugars, fats, and salts.

  • Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is the German fermented cabbage dish which improves upon its main ingredient to provide more potent health benefits. Probiotics within sauerkraut help to support digestive health and reduce bloating.9,10

  • Beans in card or tins

Beans preserved in brine offer similar health benefits to those you rehydrate at home. Most varieties are linked to good health outcomes like healthy gut flora, reduced cholesterol, and decreased blood sugar spikes.11

  • Frozen vegetables

Many people erroneously assume frozen vegetables are less healthy than fresh. The freezing process actually helps preserve vitamins and minerals.12 The NHS advises eating frozen vegetables as part of healthy, affordable vegetarian diet plans.13

  • Nut butter

Nut butter is typically high in fats, but they’re good fats, including oleic acid which encourages healthy insulin sensitivity.14 Look for whole nut butter with few added oils or sugars in moderation to enjoy their health benefits.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Healthier snack swaps to improve your diet

Snacking can get the better of us all occasionally. These 10 healthier snacks ideas will help you stay on track with your diet while still feeling satisfied and nourished.

Last updated: 06 May 2021

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