It’s no surprise that processed food isn’t good for you, and thankfully, there’s been a noticeable and significant shift in our society toward more locally and organically conscious cuisine. However, a large number of Americans are still considered to be unhealthy, as more than one third of American adults are obese. Will this ever change? With GMO-ridden food and expensive prices attached to organic products, it can seem like an uphill battle. Even so, you’ll want to switch up your processed diet ASAP. Here are five disturbing facts you may be surprised to learn.
1. Processed food leaves you craving more
Because human beings are naturally drawn to certain types of food, like tastes and nutrients that are necessary for survival, it’s a no-brainer that big brand food companies would capitalize on the opportunity to implement these same ingredients into their products. Since we crave foods that taste good, processed food companies are on a competitive mission to make those products as desirable as possible, thus establishing unrealistic expectations and triggering highly unnatural cravings. More scientifically, this is referred to as the “food reward hypothesis of obesity,” which states that the reward and hedonic value of food influences food intake and body fatness. This then contributes to obesity.
2. The majority of your calories come from highly processed food
Research shows more than three-quarters of your calories come from processed foods, including a whopping 61% of highly processed foods, and 16% of moderately processed foods. Additionally, it was found that the best-selling products included refined breads, grain-based desserts, sugary sodas, juice, and sports and energy drinks.
3. You could become addicted to processed food
Junk food is bad for you, but you already knew that. Mowing down a bag of chips or stuffing your face with a frozen pizza will never be good for you, but hey, everyone indulges once in a while. And what makes the stuff so irresistibly delicious in the first place? Have you ever found yourself wondering whether you are actually addicted to cheese? Well, that’s because it’s addicting. You might be hard-pressed to find out that, because said foods have been engineered to be hyper-rewarding, which can lead to overconsumption. Simply put, junk foods have the ability to take over the brain’s biochemistry, in turn leading to full-blown addiction and the loss of self-control.
4. Sodium plays a potentially dangerous role in processed food
You’ve heard that many adults should reduce their sodium intake, and if you’re aware of the potential harm too much sodium could have on your body, then you probably try to take it easy on the salt shaker. However, you’ll be interested to hear that more than 75% of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker. Try to make an effort to cook more at home, buy whole foods at the grocery store, and be cognizant you’re not stocking the freezer with too much frozen food.
5. It takes less time and energy to digest processed food
Because food companies want their products to have long shelf lives, the nutrients are refined, fiber is reduced, and the end product is often far from the whole food that you actually should be eating. With that said, the fact that these ingredients have been dumbed down only further proves the lack of nutritional value they hold, which means you can eat more calories in a shorter amount of time but aren’t able to expend as much energy, resulting in less caloric output.