What Are Processed Foods: Properties and Risks

What Are Processed Foods: What They Are, Properties and Risks: Processed foods increase the risk of suffering from cancer or cardiovascular diseases.

For decades, there has been a global boom in the consumption of processed foods due to the change of the paradigm in food intake, the ease of obtaining them, the rapid preparation of them, and their constant appearance in the media.

What Are Processed Foods?

However, this type of food is the cause of a large number of diseases and health problems. In this article, we will detail what processed foods are, their properties, and what risks they entail for the human organism, especially if they are consumed with great regularity.

What Are Processed Foods

Processed or ultra-processed foods are those that do not occur in their natural state but have undergone a modification of their properties through industrial processes. This type of process to which the food is subjected can change its state, physical aspect, and even nutritional composition.

Processed foods have achieved unprecedented success in the West and in more and more countries around the world because they are designed to be consumed instantly. The increasingly rapid pace of life in modern societies has favored the increase in marketing and consumption of this type of food. However, according to experts, it is little or nothing healthy products.

Processed foods also have their popularity to contain nutrients and certain elements that make them addictive for a large number of people in society.

Its high content of fats and carbohydrates and its intense and pleasant taste are some of the elements that make them highly demanded foods.


4 Properties of These Products

Processed foods lose nutritional properties due to being subjected to industrial processes that make them the final product that is marketed.

In addition to that, they usually contain an excess of unhealthy nutrients and a very low level of necessary nutrients, which makes them an unwise option to maintain a healthy diet.

Processed foods are normally obtained by adding a series of elements foreign to the original food known as “additives.”

Some of these additives are dyes, preservatives, modifiers, and flavorings; then, we will define each of these products.

1. Colorants

Food dyes make up one of the groups of additives best known to society in general. This type of additive is usually artificial, although there are some natural colors.

Food companies normally use additives to give uniqueness to their products by adding a specific color, which in most cases does not provide nutritional benefits or any other type of food.

They are usually classified with codes that begin with the letter E, and some of them are highly damaging to health, as is the case of dyes E-102, E-104, E-110 and E-120

2. Preservatives

Preservatives are additives used just to preserve processed foods’ physical and nutritional properties. The companies use them in their products to avoid the appearance of microorganisms in the food produced and prevent their deterioration.

The preservatives, like the dyes, can be harmful to health and likewise are registered with the letter E and a later code. The preservatives less indicated for the health of the organism are E-210, E-211 E-212, and E-213.

3. Modifiers

The modifying processes to which processed foods are subjected are varied. Some typical examples are the increase and decrease of its temperature or the alteration of its physical form, appearance, and internal properties.

4. Flavors

Food flavorings are natural or artificial elements added to food to enhance its flavor and odor or provide other flavors and aromas different from those of natural ingredients.


Health risks: associated diseases

We have commented on the characteristics that make processed foods highly demanded, consumed, and addictive elements for a large part of the world population. However, it is important to highlight the risks of consuming processed or industrial foods on a regular basis.

Eating processed or ultra-processed foods regularly can cause serious health problems for consumers. Some of these problems are diabetes mellitus, obesity, high cholesterol, various types of cardiovascular problems, arteriosclerosis, oxidation of the organism as a whole, premature aging, and certain types of cancer.

One of the most remarkable health consequences when it comes to abusing processed foods is the appearance of cancer in general and in particular, colon cancer and breast cancer, especially in the case of women.

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