More and more research links a diet high in the ultra-processed foods—like frozen meals, French fries, and pastries—to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
It’s also linked to a higher all-cause mortality—which means death from ANY and ALL causes!
That being said, very few people have the time or resources to live entirely off the land…only eating freshly harvested produce or freshly caught meat and fish.
The good news is, there are 12 convenient, “processed” foods that actually SUPPORT your health (and save time).
Let me explain…
These “processed” foods get my OK
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you should always strive to follow a balanced, Mediterranean-type diet.
This type of diet is filled with whole foods like full-fat dairy (including butter, eggs, cheeses, and plain yogurt), wild-caught fish and seafood, grass-fed and -finished meat, nuts, seeds, fresh produce, and alcohol (in moderation).
However, these 12 “processed” foods get the OK from me as they boost your nutritional intake AND save time:
Beans are good sources of plant proteins. For example, they contain two-to-three times more fiber than brown rice or quinoa.
Of course, dried beans are the most “unprocessed” form you can buy. But you must let them soak in water overnight, which isn’t very convenient.
Therefore, canned beans can make a perfectly acceptable alternative. Using them saves a lot of time! Just remember to always opt for organic, canned beans and rinse them under cold water for a few seconds to wash off the extra salt from the canning process. (You can also look for low-salt varieties.)
Chicken is another great source of protein in the diet. And many grocery stores now offer organic, rotisserie chicken—which can make a good, healthy choice for a quick, easy, and nutritious dinner. Serve it with some fresh vegetables or a nice, green salad.
Full-fat organic dairy is yet another important source of protein, as well as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. It’s also a key part of the healthy, Mediterranean-type diet. (Even though most “experts” fail to mention it because it doesn’t fit into their “anti-fat” narrative.)
Of course, milk and other dairy products are all “processed” or “pasteurized” to some extent in order to ensure their safety. But they still, obviously, get my OK!
I also want to mention yogurt in particular because it provides all the nutrients of regular, full-fat dairy…with the addition of healthy probiotics, which support your all-important gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome. (Indeed, many experts now consider your GI microbiome to be “ground zero” for your health.)
As always, opt for plain, full-fat, organic, Greek or Icelandic varieties. They have double the protein and half the sugar of other prepared yogurts. You can even toss in your own fresh fruits and granola for added flavor and nutrition. (For more help in choosing a yogurt, click here.)
Fruits and vegetables serve as another quick, yet nutritious food option. Experts used to insist we must get six to eight servings of them each day. But recent science shows that we really only need FIVE servings daily to live a longer, healthier life.
Plus, they don’t always need to be “fresh.” In fact, for ease of prep and storage, frozen, organic fruits and veggies make a perfectly good choice. In fact, in some cases, frozen, organic produce is even more potent than fresh—because manufacturers use a “flash freezing” process that packages it at peak nutritional values.
Of course, you can also pickle or ferment fresh produce…which brings me to sauerkraut (fermented cabbage). In my view, this is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. For one, it contains lots of naturally occurring fiber. And, second, like yogurt, it supports the health of your all-important GI microbiome.
Next up, we have fish. And guess what? Buying it frozen is just as good as buying it fresh. Just make sure to opt for wild-caught varieties. Otherwise, you can assume the fish comes from a farm.
Lastly, while canned fish is popular, I advise you to be very careful about the quality of those sources, as they can contain mercury and other heavy metals.
Nuts, seeds, and dried berries are good, convenient snack choices, as they contain essential fats, protein, and other nutrients. But avoid any kind of “trail mix” made with added sodium, sugars, or artificial ingredients.
Instead, I suggest you make your own healthy trail mix, as part of a healthy “Bear Diet,” which my daughter originally formulated in middle school. (To learn more about the Bear Diet, see my special report called The “Top of the Food Chain” Cure for Obesity. Subscribers to my Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter get this seven-page report for FREE.)
Last but certainly not least on my list of healthy “processed” foods are canned tomatoes, as they’re a particularly good source of the lycopene. In fact, they have MORE of this powerful carotenoid than fresh tomatoes. (Cooking takes out much of the water content of tomatoes, leaving just the concentrated nutrient constituents like lycopene. So, eating cooked tomatoes is like taking a lycopene supplement.)
Go ahead and enjoy them in your stews, chilis, and other prepared dishes for an easy boost of fiber and nutrition!
Making good dietary choices isn’t as hard as it seems
In the end, you don’t have to completely ward off anything found in a jar or a can. Just be choosey about the items you select.
For more help in making good choices at the grocery store this summer, check out the July 2022 issue of my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Here’s the inside scoop on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started!
“10 Processed foods that are actually good for you.” Newsmax, 3/1/22. (newsmax.com/health/health-news/food-processed-nutrition-diet/2022/03/01/id/1059061/)