>Quick Meals – Processed Foods


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You’re tired, you have been at work all day, had to fight the peak hour traffic all the way home – or maybe the train / tram / bus was running late. Whatever the reason, you are worn out and the last thing you want to have to think about is preparing an evening meal, just for yourself, or for the entire family.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? It’s happening right across the industrialized world. Families where both parents are working full time to make ends meet, and single parent families too, all have to pay mortgages and school fees, medical bills….. all have to spend hard earned $$$$ on staple food items.

So how is it dealt with – open the freezer of course, or pick up a take-a-way dinner from some fast food outlet. Now don’t get me wrong here. A nice fresh BBQ chicken with a green side salad is a fairly quick, inexpensive and nutritious meal. It is one which can be enjoyed occasionally. Trust me as one who knows this first hand – too many chicken dinners eaten consecutively becomes very boring – enough that you may consider you have grown feathers

But what about those items in your freezer, or kitchen pantry that can be cooked and served for the evening meal. Are they nutritious? Are they healthy? Why exactly did you select them whilst roaming the supermarket isles?

The following has been adapted from a Readers Digest Article. Other articles have also been sourced and are linked. Specific comments of mine NOT of the original article are in italics

Did you know that nearly 90 percent of the household food budget in America is spent on processed foods, the majority of which are filled with additives and stripped of nutrients? I would take a guess that the Australian and perhaps the British household budget spending would be very similar, and that kitchen food cupboards and refrigerator and freezer contents would be similar – personal tastes taken into account of course.

Let’s Discover which common ingredients in the foods you eat pose the greatest risk to your health.

Grab the broccoli with cheese sauce from the freezer, the box of instant rice pilaf from the pantry, or the hot dogs from your fridge and squint at the ingredient list’s fine print. You’ll likely find food additives in every one.

Is this healthy? Compared to the foods our bodies were built to eat, definitely not. Processed, packaged foods have almost completely taken over the diet of Americans.

Unfortunately, most processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives. But the trouble is not just what’s been added, but what’s been taken away. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients designed by nature to protect your heart, such as soluble fiber, antioxidants, and “good” fats. Combine that with additives, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Here are the big four ingredients in processed foods you should look out for:

TRANS FATS
Trans fats are in moist bakery muffins and crispy crackers, microwave popcorn and fast-food French fries, even the stick margarine you may rely on as a “heart-healthy” alternative to saturated-fat-laden butter.

Once hailed as a cheap, heart-friendly replacement for butter, lard, and coconut oil, trans fats have, in recent times, been denounced by one Harvard nutrition expert as “the biggest food-processing disaster in U.S. history.” Why? Research now reveals trans fats are twice as dangerous for your heart as saturated fat, and cause an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 premature heart disease deaths each year.

Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol. That’s double trouble for your arteries. And unlike saturated fats, trans fats also raise your levels of artery-clogging lipoprotein and triglycerides.

Trans fats have been listed on the “Nutrition Facts” panel on food beginning in 2006. However we still need to be on the lookout on the ingredient list for any of these words: “partially hydrogenated,” “fractionated,” or “hydrogenated” (fully hydrogenated fats are not a heart threat, but some trans fats are mislabeled as “hydrogenated”). The higher up the phrase “partially hydrogenated oil” is on the list of ingredients, the more trans fat the product contains.

Replacing trans fats with good fats could cut your heart attack risk by a whopping 53 percent.

REFINED GRAINS
Choosing refined grains such as white bread, rolls, sugary low-fiber cereal, white rice, or white pasta over whole grains can boost your heart attack risk by up to 30 percent. You’ve got to be a savvy shopper. Don’t be fooled by deceptive label claims such as “made with wheat flour” or “seven grain.” Or by white-flour breads topped with a sprinkling of oats, or colored brown with molasses. Often, they’re just the same old refined stuff that raises risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, insulin resistance, diabetes, and belly fat.

At least seven major studies show that women and men who eat more whole grains (including dark bread, whole-grain breakfast cereals, popcorn, cooked oatmeal, brown rice, bran, and other grains like bulgur or kasha) have 20 to 30 percent less heart disease. In contrast, those who opt for refined grains have more heart attacks, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure.

Read the ingredient list on packaged grain products. If the product is one of those that are best for you, the first ingredients should be whole wheat or another whole grain, such as oats. The fiber content should be at least 3 grams per serving.

** In my humble opinion we need to consume far less bread, pasta, grains etc. Our ancestors were hunter gatherers. They did not plant and harvest grains. Grains and soy are not edible in nature without processing, and so it would be safe to assume we have not eaten them for millions of years. It has only been since the advent of agriculture that we started to rely on grains for our food supply. That was a huge mistake.

SALT
Three-quarters of the sodium in our diets isn’t from the saltshaker. It’s hidden in processed foods, such as canned vegetables and soups, condiments like soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, fast-food burgers (and fries, of course), and cured or preserved meats like bacon, ham, and deli turkey.

Some sodium occurs naturally in unprocessed edibles, including milk, beets, celery, and even some drinking water. And that’s a good thing: Sodium is necessary for life. It helps regulate blood pressure, maintains the body’s fluid balance, transmits nerve impulses, makes muscles — including your heart — contract, and keeps your senses of taste, smell, and touch working properly. You need a little every day to replace what’s lost to sweat, tears, and other excretions.

Not So Sweet After All
But what happens when you eat more salt than your body needs? Your body retains fluid simply to dilute the extra sodium in your bloodstream. This raises blood volume, forcing your heart to work harder; at the same time, it makes veins and arteries constrict. The combination raises blood pressure.

Your limit should be 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, about the amount in three-fourths of a teaspoon of salt. (Table salt, by the way, is 40 percent sodium, 60 percent chloride.) Older people should eat even less, to counteract the natural rise in blood pressure that comes with age. People over 50 should strive for 1,300 mg; those over 70 should aim for 1,200 mg.

** Again, in my humble opinion, you need to do your research on the SALT issue. The above statement that much of the salt in our diets is HIDDEN in the processed foods we buy and eat – is correct. IF you follow a diet that is particularly low in processed foods, then it is not only safe, but absolutely necessary that you include a good salt in your diet.

Advice on reducing your sodium intake should be taken with a pinch of salt, according to the latest research. Not only is there no need to eat less of it but it can also be positively dangerous for some people’s health.

Scientists across Europe have completed three studies which contradict a British Government health warning that people should cut their intake to six grams a day.

HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
Compared to traditional sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup costs less to make, is sweeter to the taste, and mixes more easily with other ingredients. Today, we consume nearly 63 pounds of it per person per year in drinks and sweets, as well as in other products. High-fructose corn syrup is in many frozen foods. It gives bread an inviting, brown color and soft texture, so it’s also in whole-wheat bread, hamburger buns, and English muffins. It is in beer, bacon, spaghetti sauce, soft drinks, and even ketchup.

Research is beginning to suggest that this liquid sweetener may upset the human metabolism, raising the risk for heart disease and diabetes. Researchers say that high-fructose corn syrup’s chemical structure encourages overeating. It also seems to force the liver to pump more heart-threatening triglycerides into the bloodstream. In addition, fructose may zap your body’s reserves of chromium, a mineral important for healthy levels of cholesterol, insulin, and blood sugar.

To spot fructose on a food label, look for the words “corn sweetener,” “corn syrup,” or “corn syrup solids” as well as “high-fructose corn syrup.”

By the way the FDA has ‘ruled’ that HFCS is natural. So is arsenic! But is that good for you?

High fructose corn syrup or HFCS is a sweetener made from maize or corn. The starch is extracted from the maize and converted into a mix of fructose and glucose. While fructose is a natural sugar found in fruit, there’s nothing natural about this syrup. It’s just as refined and calorific as ordinary cane sugar.

In the US, HFCS is popular and is commonly used in soft drinks because it’s less expensive than cane sugar, which is what we use in Australia. However nutritionists have some concerns that HFCS may not be good for us. Emerging evidence suggests that it may increase the risk of the metabolic syndrome – a cluster of health problems including insulin resistance, high blood pressure, obesity and high blood triglycerides.

It’s thought that when the body turns HFCS into energy, it creates too-high levels of the unhealthy triglyceride fats in the process. So even though too much sugar is not good for us, the body seems to handle it better than HFCS. Fortunately for our health, this sweetener is not used widely in Australia but be careful and read the labels on imported foods.

** I think it is important to realize that ordinary table sugar (Known as Sucrose) – brown or white, is a chemical combination of Glucose and Fructose. The human body needs the Glucose portion to drive the cellular energy. As soon as you put it in your mouth it is digested and goes into action without ever having to go to the liver for processing. The Fructose portion of the Sucrose (your table sugar) is handled by the body in quite a different way. It does go to the liver, it is processed, and IF it is not required immediately by the body for energy usage, it is stored as triglycerides. Ever heard of fatty Liver Disease?

A little fructose (notice the word LITTLE) eaten in a small piece of fruit is OK. Don’t be misled by articles and advertisements that tell you Fructose is better for you.

If you are seriously interested in what Fructose does within the human body, I can recommend NephrolPal Blog to you. Written mostly in ‘easy speak’.

Food manufacturers hide dangerous ingredients in everyday foods by using confusing terms on the label –

Article by Mike Adams. Health Ranger.

As a good example of the kind of ingredients that are hidden on food labels, let’s take a look at MSG, also called monosodium glutamate. MSG is an excitotoxin — an ingredient known to cause nerve damage by overexciting nerves. This is exactly how MSG enhances the taste of foods: by overexciting the taste buds on your tongue. While MSG is sometimes listed directly on the label, it is more frequently hidden in other ingredients, such as yeast extract, autolyzed vegetable protein, or hydrolyzed vegetable protein. All three of these ingredients contain monosodium glutamate, and yet they are designed to mislead consumers by avoiding mentioning MSG directly on the label.

Other ingredients may be misleading without necessarily being dangerous. One such ingredient is carmine — a red coloring frequently used in yogurt, candies, fruit drinks and sweets. Carmine is actually made from the dead, ground-up husks of female red beetles. These beetles, which are typically raised in the Canary Islands, are dried and ground up to create a red paste. This red paste is then exported to the United States and other countries where food is produced. It is added to foods to give them a rose-like color, something similar to a strawberry color. It’s listed on the label as “carmine”, not as “ground-up red beetles.” And while carmine doesn’t necessarily pose a health risk to American consumers, it is still an example of dishonest labeling, because people have the right to know when ground-up insects are being used in their foods. There are probably 100 items in your grocery store right now with carmine listed right on the label. You can go to your store right now and check it out, and verify that what I’m relating here is true. (Pick up practically any strawberry yogurt…)

There are other ingredients used on food labels that are, in fact, extremely toxic to the human body, and yet are not listed with appropriate descriptors. One such ingredient is sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite is added to most packaged meat products found in a grocery store, and even in health food stores. To most people, sodium nitrite simply sounds like a form of salt, but, in fact, this ingredient is extremely carcinogenic. When combined with your saliva and digestive enzymes, sodium nitrite creates cancer-causing compounds known as nitrosamines. These nitrosamines are so toxic to biological systems that they are actually used to give lab rats cancer in laboratory tests. In humans, the consumption of sodium nitrite has been strongly correlated with brain tumors, leukemia, and cancers of the digestive tract. Yet this ingredient carries absolutely no warning on food labels, and in fact, seems to sound like a perfectly safe ingredient, like sodium. As with carmine, you can go to your grocery store and find hundreds, if not thousands, of products using sodium nitrite. Look for it on bacon, ham, pepperoni, and other packaged meat products. In fact, it’s almost impossible to find a packaged meat product that isn’t made with sodium nitrite. This ingredient is especially prevalent in hot dogs and lunch meats. It has been clinically proven to cause leukemia, brain tumors and other forms of cancer.

By the way, if sodium nitrite is so dangerous, why do food manufacturers use it? Because it adds red color to meat products that would otherwise appear to be a putrid gray color. By making them look red with the help of this color additive sodium nitrite, these meat products look more delicious and fresh, even though they are not. Some of these products have the shelf life of several months, which is far longer than any normal piece of meat would last without looking rather undesirable.

** Choosing fresh meats, fish, vegetable and salads over canned and processed or packaged foods is the best way to go. You get less salt, you get no poisons and additives, you get nutrition, and you can be healthy. Which would you rather do?

When it comes to your health and that of your family, you must choose. Prepare foods in advance. Choose cuts of meat and fish that can be quickly prepared. Green salads and steamed vegetables don’t take long to prepare – even after a long hard day at work. You will reap the benefits.

POST SCRIPT:
Many of our foods, drinks and medicines contain the poison Aspartame. A very well produced web site: Mission Possible World Health International, is a gold mine of historical information on this most toxic of substances.

Please find time in your busy scedule to read the information there.

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About JustMEinT Musings

I like writing, reading and expressing my opinions. I prefer natural health and healing to pharmaceutical drugs. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour.
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