Everybody who isn’t living under a rock has heard that processed foods are very unhealthy. The obvious reason for this is that humans tend to have reactions when they are exposed to weird chemicals and chemicals that can’t be pronounced definitely fall into the category of weird chemicals. A holistic, natural diet is comprised of ingredients that can be pronounced, including many fresh fruits and vegetables as well as grains. But there’s a little more to nutrition than that. A heavy amount of research has shown that various types of processed foods—including red meat, gelatin, or the ever-infamous high fructose corn syrup—result in the increase of a variety of health risks. But what specifically makes processed foods so bad for us? The following article explores this idea.

Processed vs. Unprocessed Foods

Junk Food

Junk Food

Speaking simply, processed foods use artificial ingredients and additives while unprocessed foods use only natural ingredients (think apples, spinach, and the like). It is uncommon to find a food product that doesn’t have chemicals of any sort, but some foods are so processed that they barely resemble their natural-occurring food progenitors. The latter type are the foods people should avoid—or, at least, shove away until the holiday season. While Oreos, MnMs, and Cheetos admittedly taste pretty wonderful, they are filled with artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors. Cheetos are so far removed from cheese that the flavors of each are highly distinct; Cheetos are distantly evocative of cheese, but their taste holds little direct resemblance to the taste of cheese. And usually, your taste buds will know it instinctively. Anything that tastes “fake” probably is fake—or, at least, uses a significant amount of artificial ingredients.

If your taste buds don’t cause you to run the other way, just turn the product over and look at the ingredients list. Check to see if there are any long, scientific-sounding names. Be honest. Instead of standing in the aisle and squinting at those words in question, employ the five-second rule. If it takes you more than five seconds to sound out the word, that product should not