Processed Foods

by Bryan Rivera

Food processing are the steps taken to deliberately change food from its natural state before being eaten. Usually, the more processed a food gets, the less "weight-loss friendly" it becomes. That's because these changes usually involve foods becoming more calorie-dense. There are a few exceptions that we'll cover at the end of this article.

Let's take corn for example. When you have an ear of corn, the shape of it limits how any kernels you can eat for each bite. This is an inherit way to eat slower. There is a delay in your gut-brain connection, meaning it takes time before you register that you're full. Eating slower helps prevent you from overeating.

You can also buy corn kernels for convenience. However, this benefit can have a not-so-obvious downside. It can cause you to overeat. Also, manufactures may add a combination of salt and fats to make their food "hyperpalatable." This increases taste triggers the reward center of your brain, influencing you to overeat.

Finally, you can buy tortilla chips. This comes from corn dough. This version is called being ultra-processed because it looks nothing like the original whole food. Ultra-processed foods have many of their original ingredients stripped, including fiber. That means that it's harder to feel full without overeating these lower quality items.



We mentioned earlier that there are a few exceptions to processed foods being reduce quality or less "weight-loss friendly". Let's take a close look at the definition of food processing. If any step taken to deliberately change food from its natural state qualifies as food processing, than cooking, pasteurization, and supplements fit this description.

Bioavailability refers to the portion of your food that is actually absorbed and utilized by your body. Cooking actually increases the bioavailability of certain foods. For example, beta carotene absorption is increased with cooking for carrots, spinach, sweet potato, and tomatoes. But besides increased nutrient availability, cooking (and also pasteurization) can combat illness. That's because consuming raw meats and dairy can be harmful.