Food Processing Effect on Nutrition

processed food
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Unless your food is fresh from the garden, there is going to be some processing involved in getting it to market.

Many factors determine the effect that the process is going to have on the nutritional value. The main one is how much heat is generated or used in the preparation of the food.

Most of us think about the big company’s food processing as being unhealthy.

Food Processing

There are benefits to using modern processing facilities like killing the harmful bacteria and microorganism that cause people to get sick.

Awareness of the trade-off between making things safe for the public and losing the nutritional value in the food.

The vitamins and minerals which are less affected by the heat in the process is something to take into consideration when evaluating the product and to decide if it is a right fit for you.

Generally, the water-soluble vitamins (the B and C group vitamins) are more affected by heat processing or cooking in general.

Fat-soluble vitamins (groups A, D, E, & K) made it through the processing better and stored in the fat cells, which stays in the body longer.

The Effect Food Preparation Processing Methods Have on Food.

Most people may not realize that the processing food begins with the type of fertilizers used on the ground before planting the seeds.

High levels of fertilizers reduce the vitamin C content in the fruits, and vegetable crops. It does not matter if the compost is organic or not the result is the same.

There is so much hype in this are that when people hear “organic,” they automatically assume that it is better for you.

Here is an exceelentexample of why it does not matter!

When it comes to grains and the milling process, it is well-known that the less the grain milled, the more nutrients stay in the product.

Fresh Wheat

The milling is going to strip some nutrients, and fiber that often replaced with inferior ingredients that the natural grain contains.

Breads that are available in the stores, have so much advertisement attached to them that it is difficult to ignore.

Better reason to take the time to understand how each of the milling processes work, equipping yourself with the knowledge to make a better choice.

What about the choice between canned or frozen vegetables?

There are plenty of arguments on both sides of the issue.

Vegetables and fruits that are harvested and go straight to the processing Plant have the highest nutrient content at that point.

In my opinion it is better to get fresh vegetables when possible, the next best would be freshly frozen, and lastly the canned vegetables.

Unless there is a natural disaster of some sort, then canned goods are your best bet because they do not need a freezer.

Heat and Cooking Effect on Food

When we cook food, we are mostly doing the same thing as the big processing places on a smaller scale.

Cooking with heat, in water or not, it is going to have some effect on the nutritional content of the food.

Some vegetables become more nutritious after cooking because it breaks down the parts of the plant that is not digestible without cooking it.

Others such as tomatoes, release more of the phytochemicals in the sauce when you cook it, than it does when eating it raw.

Temperature gauge

The temperature when cooking meat is essential, make sure these different types of “meat” reach these temperatures to ensure its safe to eat:

  • Poultry Any Preparation – 165° F
  • Ground meat Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb – 160° F
  • Fresh Steaks, Roast, Chops – 145° F (minimum 3 minutes to serve)
  • Seafood Fin Fish – 145° F
  • Eggs and Egg Dishes – 160° F
  • Leftovers – 165° F

FULL MEAT TEMP CHART

Food poison is dangerous; undercooked meats can lead to E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.

Each of these food-borne illnesses can cause symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, and muscle aches. The symptoms can continue for a week or more.

Special note on meats put through a mechanical tenderizer, the blades in these machines penetrate every piece of the meat all the way through.

If there are any bacteria present, all the meat will become contaminated.

Good Meat Markets and Restaurants will make sure their equipment is kept clean, and that will show in the way the business presents itself.

Effects of Eating Processed Food

We all are eating some processed food every day even if we are the ones preparing it.

The effects of eating processed food (mainly protein bars) produced by company’s; will be the focus of discussion in this article.

Using protein bars in your diet is not good or bad, but it depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Protein Bar

The higher levels of protein help to preserve lean muscle and support to curve hunger between meals.

This protein is critical to those who are cutting calories at meals which will leave you hungrier between meals.

What are the ingredients that we need to look at for on the nutrition labels?

Sugar content is the first one. The lower, the better! But, natural sugars from fruits are better than refined sugar.

Fat content can work against your body in absorbing the protein or even the sugar if you are eating it after a workout and in need of replacing the energy from it.

Keep the ingredients to a minimum and not have too many elements that you cannot pronounce easily.

This will be a healthier alternative than the other types of protein bars. The better option would be to eat boiled eggs, grilled chicken, or a cup of non-fat Greek yogurt if available.

Types of Carbohydrates in Food

Mainly, there are two main types of carbohydrates contained in food, simple and complex carbohydrates.

The simple carbohydrate is what we naturally crave because the body processes these very easily.

Sugar

Studies show that addiction to sugar can be more difficult to break than it is to break the habit of cocaine.

Since I have not ever used cocaine, I’ll stick to what I do know…

Kicking the sugar habit has been ten times harder than quitting smoking.

After being a smoker for many years, quitting took a mindset and was done immediately, for the first few days it was hard. But, after a month the habit was replaced, it got more relaxed and more comfortable as time goes by.

With sugar, it is so much harder, people must have some sugar, but it is hard to keep the balance. This effect is also a significant contributor to gaining weight after quitting smoking.

I would agree that sugar is one the most addicting substance that we must deal with in life.

Noodles

The complex carbohydrate is what we get through rice, noodles, beans, peas, corn and other starchy vegetables.

These complex carbs have not been a problem for me to remove from my diet. Many people have more issues with cutting these out of their foods, but it does not seem to be near as severe as the sugar issue.

Plus, there are other benefits from the starchy vegetables because they contain other nutrients plus fiber that is useful to the body.

Conclusion

Food processing is a big part of our lives and is not going away.

It is essential that we take a step back and look at our diets; see where we can make improvements to the choices we are making.

The benefits of taking the time and energy now will help you realized the outcome you want in the future.

Better health or more complications and health issues that will cost you more in money and your ability to do the things you like.

Thanks for stopping by and reading this article, please leave your comments, suggestion, or any questions below.

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12 thoughts on “Food Processing Effect on Nutrition

  1. Thank you for this post. It is through this site that I learned the following things regarding vitamins.

    The water-soluble vitamins (the B and C group vitamins) are more affected by heat processing or cooking in general and fat-soluble vitamins (groups A, D, E, & K) make it through the processing better and are stored in the fat cells, which stays in the body longer.

    So, I know what to buy during those seasons and weather and I know what to store for a longer period of time for dry season and summer time.

    1. Glad that this article brought you some information that you can use. Best wishes to your health and making good diet choices. 

  2. I really do worry about eating processed foods and sugar is so hard to cut down on, because it is addictive. 

    The supermarkets have loads of it in certain processed foods in the UK, they need cutting down more. 

    It being the New year now I want to make an effort to replace the bad sugar with good. 

    My father has diabetes and he brings back a lot of the time sugary sweet foods and it is hard to resist when you are low on energy, so I am going to keep making the effort to be even more healthier. 

    It’s about having a balance in terms of processed foods. 

    1. Thanks for your comments and glad that you enjoyed the article. Hope that your father can overcome the sweets, diabetes is not going to get better without taking those out of his diet. It is hard to do! 

  3. Hi chad; I will discus your topic because I found it helpful. When talking about fresh food processing, it is a wise choice for food processors to ensure that they get the food as soon as it is harvested. Even though some foods remain fresh longer than others. 

    On the other hand is there a way to prove which foods will be lowered in nutritional value when cooked on strong heat and which will not be affected?

    I think there is benefit to gain when food is cooked in small proportions. By all account let us ensure to have the best nutrition in order to keep strong and healthy.

    DorcasW

    1. Hello Dorcus,

      That is a good question and the best way that I see to think about this; is whether or not the vegetable will be diluted with water. If it does then minimize the amount of water used to cook it and that will help. 

      Typically the harder the vegetable the more resistant it is to losing its vitamins and minerals, but in the case of tomatoes it releases more nutrients when it is cooked into a sauce.

      Each vegetable would have to be addressed separately.  

  4. This is really an important issue that everyone moving forward must think about. You are right unless the food is straight from the garden there is going to be some processing involved before it hits the market. 

    After reading the article I actually realized how important is this for all of us. We all have to think about this and rectify our diet.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article.

    1. Thank you for your comment, glad that you found it useful information. Please share with those who you think can benefit.

  5. Great article. I will keep in mind that vitamin C and B are destroyed by heat. Aren’t the high fetilizer supposed to raise the vitamins? Eye opening, really did not know that. Whenever I can, every weekend in my neighborhood, I go buy my vegetables and pastries at the farmers market. I try to eliminate all the can products, the only thing that I buy is a tomato sauce for when I make a sphaghetti. I try not to eat too much pasta but aim for rice or potatoes, you see how I say I try lol.  Like you said you cannot aviod the procrssed food completely but you can chose the lesser of evil. Let’s stay gealthy. Love your article.

    1. Thanks for your comments, not all the B and C vitamins are destroyed in cooking but it does reduce the amount in the food. 

      The fertilizers are to make the plants grow stronger and faster, but it does rob the vitamin C from the fruits and vegetables. 

      Know what you mean on spaghetti sauce; I made it fresh one time with fresh tomatoes from the farmers market and it took a total of eight hours to get finished and everything cleaned back up. 

      The whole crate of tomatoes only made one big pot of sauce, we finished it in a couple of days.

  6. Thanks for sharing this information.I really need to share this post to my family and friends for them to get informed on the effects of food processing on nutrition.This is really educative, honestly speaking I’m not aware of all this until I came across this post, it is a must I follow your advice .

    1. Thank you for your nice comments and hope that your family find this information helpful. Awareness is the first step to making the changes that will benefit your health and other issues in life.

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