Any naturally occurring food, such as corn, peas, an apple, an egg, etc that has been changed from its natural state is defined as being processed. So basically, if you scramble an egg, slice an apple, boil corn or freeze peas you are, by definition, processing them. In fact, by this definition almost everything we eat is processed food and man, since he first placed meat on an open fire to cook it, has been eating processed food.
However, in modern times, we generally think of processed food as food that has been produced/manufactured industrially. Often the food has had additives such as flavourings, colourings, vitamins and minerals added. Sometimes the processed food is a new ‘invention’ and hasn’t existed that long, e.g. margarine.
Problem with Processed Food
One of the major problems with a lot of processed food is that the raw ingredients, during the processing, can get damaged. The constituent vitamins, proteins and other components, once damaged, are nolonger of any use to the consumer. And so, when eating the processed food, what was once healthy and nutritional food nolonger has any health benefits.
A Blank Sheet
An analogy would be a crisp new clean sheet of white paper. Taken straight out of the packet it is in perfect condition and can be used to neatly print on it a photograph, letter, poster or whatever you wish to use it for. Now, lets consider “processing it”. If we screw it up, steam it, spray if with oil and food colouring – what are we left with? The end result may look nice but we nolonger have a useable piece of paper. We can try and iron it to reflatten it and put it in our printer, but we won’t be able to achieve the optimum results we achieved when we used a fresh brand new sheet of paper.
This is what happens to a lot of processed food. It is crushed, mashed, blended, heated, steamed, flavoured, coloured and the end result may look nice but the usefulness of the food (i.e. supplying good nutrients to our body) has been lost. Once you start to heat and crush excessively food the proteins and the vitamins in the food get denatured (or damaged). This damage is irreversable. This is why a lot of processed food has “added vitamins and minerals” – to replace the ones that were originally there but got destroyed by the manufacturing process.
Corn Flakes Example
Cornflakes, for example, are made from corn which is mashed, crushed, pressed, steamed, heated and baked until the corn is totally denatured and all the nutrients and vitamins that were originally in the corn have been destroyed. The resulting ‘crisp’ is nutritionally worthless.
In fact, a “study” which was carried out in the 1960s tested this theory. Scientists fed one set of rats on cornflakes and another set of rats on the cardboard box they came in. The rats eating cardboard lived longer than the ones living on a diet of cornflakes. This “study” may be an urban myth but it does contain an strong element of truth in it. That is, that cornflakes have no nutritional value. Since then, to compensate for this, manufacturers add various vitamins and minerals to the flakes before being packaged. i.e. everything that was originally there but got destroyed by the manufacturing process!
Other Breakfast Food
And it’s not just cornflakes. Most breakfast cereals have been through similar processes. And to add insult to injury the consumer pays a premium for these ‘cereals’. About 40% of the price of a box of breakfast cereal was spent on marketing. The ‘cereal’ looks nice, sounds nice and tastes nice but it would be a lot better and cheaper for the consumer to just eat the raw grain that the breakfast cereal was made with in the first place.
Yes. Or to put it another way, unprocessed natural food which contains all its original beneficial nutrients. Oats as in oatmeal (or porridge) is one such grain. It’s 100% natural, pure and exceedlingly healthy. In fact, one might say it’s a superfood without the superfood price.