Substituting Processed Foods for Healthier Options

What are processed foods? These foods are often found in pre-packaged items like jars, bags or boxes. They often contain high amounts of added sugar and salts. Additionally, they tend to be low in fiber, contain grains, and include a large quantity of Trans Fat and saturated fat. They contain these products in an effort to improve taste and prolong shelf-life. The problem with these types of foods is that after a period of eating these foods, they can lead to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, auto-immune disease and cause many other adverse effects to the body.

Dressing, yogurts, and granola bars are just a few examples of foods that appear to be healthy due to clever advertisement. In reality, the label may indicate that these foods have little or no nutritional value. Be sure to check the labels and see how much sugar, sodium (salt) and/or saturated or Trans Fat the product contains. These should be consumed in very limited amounts if even at all. Another way to tell if a food is processed is to check the ingredients list. If the words on the label are quite challenging to pronounce, chances are they are not good for you. These artificial ingredients can cause toxins to your body. Here are a few common processed foods and how you can easily make a healthier homemade version of:

Salad Dressing
Next time you grab a bottle of salad dressing off the shelf, read the ingredients. Dressings are full of preservatives and fillers to add texture. An easy way to avoid these preservatives is to make your own dressing. Simply whisk olive, avocado or grape seed oil into vinegar and/or red wine vinegar and then throw in a few seasonings like garlic powder, Dijon mustard or minced garlic.

Flavored Greek Yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt has a good quality of calcium and probiotics that help with digestion. The flavored yogurts can contain artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. Even the healthy-sounding “fruit-at-the-bottom” stuff is less than ideal, since it can come loaded with sugar, making it more like a dessert than a breakfast food. A healthier option is to stir fresh or frozen fruit into plain yogurt. One trick to making it taste sweet without adding sugar is to add a splash of vanilla extract for a confectionery flavor.

Granola Bars
Granola bars seem healthy; however, the nutrition label of many granola bars may indicate that it’s high in sugar and fat. Again, check labels to see if there is any added sugar or fat. Make a homemade granola mix with whole oats, raisins, sunflower seeds and almonds. These raw ingredients will not have the added sugar when mixed together from a whole food base.

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