Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Sponsored: Processed Foods … should you avoid them?

Sponsored: Processed Foods … should you avoid them?

Sometimes we hear people make statements like, “I don’t eat any processed foods!” …and then open up a Greek yogurt or order hummus with pita bread… and all of those foods are processed. What I think some health gurus are trying to say when they make that sort of pronouncement is in fact, “Avoid or limit foods that have been highly processed and include high amounts of fats, sodium (salt) or sugars.” 

The definition of “processing” of food simply means taking a food item from an inedible or raw state to one that is edible,  so in fact processing can include: boiling, baking, milling, grinding, peeling, homogenizing, pasteurizing cutting, etc. Some processing is done to make foods safe to eat (pasteurizing, roasting) and other types of processing (adding emulsifiers or mold inhibitors) can be used to improve taste, color or shelf stability. 

If we think of the processing of foods as more of a continuum let’s look at some general examples moving from minimally processed to ultra or highly processed.


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Note This is not to say that ultra or highly processed foods are “bad” but just that more often we should be choosing foods that are minimally or moderately processed rather than foods that are highly/ultra processed. 


Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian



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