Processed foods are defined as any food other raw agricultural commodity and any raw agricultural commodity subject to canning, cooked, frozen, dehydrated and milled. These are the parameters used by the FDA to establish what is said to be a “processed food.” The first patent in the US for processed foods was in 1815 and the mass production of canning began in 1847. In 1861 Louis Pasteur discovered if you heat the food before you seal it harmful microorganisms are destroyed and this is known as pasteurization. In 1920 Clarence Birdseye invented the deep-freeze method allowing foods to be delivered across continents. If you heat it and can it, foods last longer on shelves. Now the negative side of processed foods: they typically have excessive amounts of sodium (remember, it is not recommended that you exceed 2,200mg of sodium daily), fats (trans fats) and sweeteners as preservatives and flavor. Processed foods are also likely stripped of fiber, good fats and antioxidants. Processed meats, packaged baked goods and especially frozen dinners are usually the worst on the list of processed foods. Fresh is always best if you have the choice.
Refined foods are foods that started out whole then were stripped of nutrients. White rice is naturally brown, then when refined it is stripped of vitamins, minerals, enzymes (to help breakdown foods), prebiotics, probiotics and fiber. Same is the case with white flour, which is made from wheat flour. These are two examples of refined foods that start as complex carbohydrates and low glycemic, then refined to a simple, starchy carbohydrate that’s high on the glycemic index and more likely to cause fat storage. This refining method started way back in ancient Egypt because they found cooking refined grains was easier and faster. If you notice on the wrapper of white bread many state that they are fortified with vitamins and minerals (that were removed); however, the fiber is still missing. Refined foods and ingredients can be found in breads, cereals, baked goods sodas, juices and much more. Too many of these foods too frequently can be damaging to our bodies. It’s food like this that have become a part of the U.S. daily diet and perhaps that’s why we lead the world in obesity. Other effects from eating these foods too frequently may include cavities, constipation and toxic build-up.
Bottom Line… It’s always best to eat unprocessed, unrefined, wholefoods.