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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Processed Foods: USDA says any edible not raw is processed

A recent Time Magazine article about processed foods that says the USDA classifies "any edible that is not a raw agricultural commodity" as processed.

Since that puts Twinkies and frozen vegetables in the same category, researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill designed a study that categorized processed foods as minimally processed, basically processed, moderately processed and highly processed.

No surprise that people like the last two categories best and consume 61% of their calories from moderately processed foods and 16% from highly processed foods.

The article falls down at the end when the researcher says no US study links processed foods to obesity and diabetes and doesn't explain this further. Considering the dependent relationship between the USDA and big food, maybe only privately funded researchers are studying this relationship?

In a second article about the same study, a different writer quotes the lead investigator, Jennifer Poti:

 "It is important that when we discuss processed foods, we acknowledge that many processed foods, such as canned vegetables or whole-grain breakfast cereals, are important contributors to nutrition and food security. However, it is the highly processed foods . . . that might potentially be related to obesity."

My reaction is disbelief. Medical research conducted by the American Diabetes Association, shows chemicals found in processed foods called AGEs, advance glycation end products, contribute to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.  Studies about intestinal health show that a balanced microbiome, helps avoid the food cravings that lead to avoid obesity.
advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs)
advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs)
advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs)
advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs)
Research suggests that tasty chemicals in processed food called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) may trigger inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, damaging tissues and causing insulin resistance. - See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/research-and-practice/patient-access-to-research/chemicals-in-processed-foods.html#sthash.uDzeWli4.dpuf
Research suggests that tasty chemicals in processed food called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) may trigger inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, damaging tissues and causing insulin resistance. - See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/research-and-practice/patient-access-to-research/chemicals-in-processed-foods.html#sthash.uDzeWli4.dpuf

The Food Babe, Vani Hari, also from North Carolina, has gained traction and had decisive wins over food conglomerates like Kraft.  She convinced Kraft to remove tartrazine, a yellow dye from their mac and cheese.  Her mantra is "If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it."

It would be helpful for the USDA to redefine processed foods and work with the FDA to put  information on Nutrition Labels that people might use.  People living in impoverished neighborhoods where food choices are limited, and more likely to be processed than fresh, would benefit from being able to distinguish between highly processed and minimally processed foods.


Informed choice is what the consumer deserves.

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