No Junk: Why Processed Food Is Bad for You

No Junk: Why Processed Food Is Bad for You

A disproportionate amount of the average household food budget is spent on “junk food”; processed foods that are stripped of nutrients and packed with salt, fat and sugar. According to the USDA’s report, Assessing the Healthfulness of Consumers’ Grocery Purchases, our rates of refined grain, fat, sugar, beverage, and frozen food consumption are all much higher than they should be, while our intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes is significantly lower than recommended.

Whether eating at a restaurant or in your own kitchen, a diet of highly processed foods can have a negative impact on your vitamin intake, weight and overall health:

Calories

The USDA’s 2010 dietary guidelines report that pizza, grain-based desserts, and sugary beverages like soda are some of the leading sources of calories in the average American diet. Junk food tends to contain significantly more calories than whole foods, without the fiber and other nutrients you need to feel full. This can lead to overeating and obesity-related health complications.

Bad Fats

Junk foods like candy, chips, pizza, packaged desserts and French fries can contain a surprising amount of saturated and trans fats. Both of these “bad fats” can elevate total and LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Salt

Over 75% of the sodium in our diets comes from processed and restaurant foods; that’s because they often contain additional additives. Too much sodium from junk food can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney disease and stroke.

Use your Kids Cook Monday meal to add fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains to your diet. Not only will you improve the nutritional profile of your meal, you may find that you prefer the healthier option! For a fresh spin on junk food, check out these family-friendly recipes:

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