Nutrient Deficiencies Linked to Processed Foods

Processed foods are usually described as bagged, boxed, and sold as snacks, cookies, chips, and similar packaged products. Fast food is also often assumed to be processed, although many people still enjoy drive-through meals based on taste and convenience. Most processed foods, however, contain high levels of sodium, sugar, fat, and chemicals that may contribute to weight gain and other health problems. Processed foods can also include food colorings and flavorings that are not healthy. Here are seven of the most common disadvantages of processed foods:

They’re shelf stable. During processing, most foods lose their nutrient content. In addition, during storage, heat can destroy many nutrients. This is one advantage why they are so popular as frozen foods. Some of the nutrients lost during storage include riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and niacin.

They have a low absorbability. During processing, heat causes food processing chemicals such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) to lose nutrients. Although they have a low absorbability rating, they still are more absorbable than raw foods. However, this disadvantage is offset by the fact that the nutrient loss is less than in raw foods.

They do not brown as you expect from a food. During cooking, the nutrients Leach out into the water or broth used to cook them. During food processing, some of the nutrients are not lost and appear as black or white spots on processed foods.

They are more likely to contain breading or off flavors. Most processed foods, especially those that come from the food processing phase, contain what is called “bleached” flour. This is a flower that has been treated with an “olytic bath”. This treatment makes it more soluble in water and creates a light breading or off flavor.


They are lacking in vitamins and minerals. It is well known that eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables is good for your heart health. However, studies have shown that people who ate a lot of processed foods were not as healthy as those who ate more natural foods. They had poorer heart health and had an increased risk of death from heart disease.

They are lacking nutrients. During food processing, many nutrients are lost. Vitamins B and D, essential fatty acids, fiber, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium are all lost during the food processing process. In addition, some of the phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties, like flavonoids and others are also lost during processing. In short, cooked foods lose much of their nutritional value.

These reasons justify why people should avoid processed foods. Eating a more varied diet full of unprocessed natural foods is the best way to get the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need. Your body can then use these nutrients for improved health. Processed food processing enables them to enter into your body, where they sit, waiting to do damage.


Processed foods are cooked or processed using various methods that deplete the nutrients. Cooking destroys some nutrients, while processing destroys most. There are many ways that foods are processed. For example, in boiling, frying, grilling or baking, enzymes like lipase and conjugated linoleic acid are released that contribute to the breakdown of dietary fiber. Frying or roasting destroys the fiber, for oils such as palm oil are used instead. Dehydrating, boiling, or steaming dehydrates foods, for drying can affect nutritional quality.

Another way to compromise the nutrient levels in processed foods is by making preservation a part of the cooking process. This includes freezing, steaming, canning and broiling. Extraction or partial drying can be another form of preservation that depletes nutrients, but it is a relatively new way of preserving foods. Some nutrients are lost during dehydration, while some nutrients are lost during the cooking process.


Changing to a healthier diet is easy when you add unprocessed grains, beans, nuts, fresh fruits, vegetables and other food products that are rich in nutrients. You can easily make this switch without going through the hassle of cooking or processing. For example, whole-grain rice is healthier than white rice, for more fiber, iron and B vitamins; for a lower cholesterol level; for fewer heart disease and cancer risks; for a healthier digestive system; and for a healthier skin. It’s a great way to improve your health and avoid the dangers of processed food products. It’s simple and you’ll be able to start eating a more varied diet right away.


A balanced diet, low in saturated fats, low in salt and sugar, high in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods is the most healthful way to eat. This is the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) recommended dietary pattern. To maintain optimal nutrient digestibility, it is important that all Americans consume foods from each of the four categories of carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and protein. This dietary pattern, combined with a sensible lifestyle, can help people lead healthy lives and avoid the complications of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

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