Foods that are alter from their natural state after being taken through various artificial processes. If it's boxed, bagged, canned or jarred and has a list of ingredients on the label, it's processed. Methods used to process foods include: 

• Canning 

• Freezing 

• Refrigeration 

• Dehydration 

• Aseptic Processing

Need for processing food

Processed foods are more convenient. Many working professionals choose processed foods over natural foods to save time and to eat something ‘tastier’. But convenience isn't the only thing you get when you eat processed foods. Here is a list of ingredients that manufacturers add to processed foods: 

• Color 

• Stabilizer 

• Emulsifiers 

• Bleach 

• Texturizers 

• Softeners 

• Preservatives 

• Sweeteners 

• Hide Odours 

• Flavours

You could be unwittingly filling your grocery cart with highly processed foods that can adversely affect your health. Avoiding processed foods that contain these and other chemical additives greatly benefit our health.

Health effects of processed foods

1. Cancer

People who regularly consume processed foods may have an increased risk of developing pancreatic and other types of cancer. Some synthetic chemicals used in the processed food industry are known to have carcinogenic properties.

2. Obesity and Diabetes

Heavily processed foods are usually higher in sugar. This blocks the hormonal signal that tells your brain that it's time to stop eating. High fat and high salt content leads to water retention. Lack of nutrients and fibre results in unhealthy weight gain and consumption of empty calories.Read more about importance of high fibre foods.Consumption of sugar loaded processed foods leads to spikes in blood sugar levels. According to the World Health Organization, processed foods are to blame for the spike in obesity levels and other chronic diseases around the world.

3. Shorter Life span and promotes aging

Processed foods could shave years off your life. Your face could start resembling crinkle-cut chips if you turn to munching processed foods on a regular basis. A 2012 study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that people who cooked at home at least five times a week were 47% more likely to be alive after 10 years than people who relied more on processed foods. Scientific research shows that processed meat is a very strong contributor to ageing. Processed meats include those that have been smoked, salted, cured, or preserved with chemicals, such as nitrates.

4. Hidden Kidney Killers

Kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health. When your body’s sodium is low, the kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium. When body sodium is high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine but if for some reason your kidneys can't eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to build up in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases, which makes your heart work harder and increases pressure in your arteries. Chronic kidney diseases can make it hard for your kidneys to keep sodium levels balanced. Processed foods are typically high in salt and additives that contain sodium. This includes bread, preserved and frozen meals, processed meat, pizza, cold cuts and bacon, cheese, soups, and fast foods. Get more information on how healthy are packaged soups.Avoid foods with ingredients like "sodium phosphate," "calcium phosphate," and "phosphoric acid," or anything with "phos-" in the word.

5. Inflammation in body

People who eat food consisting processed ingredients two to three times a week face a significantly higher risk of developing asthma. Food preservatives can also trigger asthma. Sulfite additives are commonly used in food processing or preparation and may trigger asthma in those people who are sensitive. Processed foods have the ability to create inflammation in the body. Trans fats and sugar is common in fast-food menu items triggering inflammation, an unhealthy condition tied to asthma. Read about trans fat and how to avoid it.Avoid the drive-thru and eat fruits and vegetables at least three times a week.