Local health experts say processed foods are some of the most
unhealthy for diets.
While it might be a quick answer for dinner, such foods can have
long-term negative effects on the body, including cancer, diabetes and heart
Registered dietician Marta Salyer, with Fort Loudoun Medical Center, said those
processed foods are naturally high in sodium and sugar, which are ingredients that should be avoided
"The processed foods, all of the foods basically in the middle of your aisles
in the grocery store that last a really long time, are going to be particularly high in sodium
because they use it as a preservative to make food not go bad," Salyer said. "... Most
canned soups, just a half of a cup may be like a thousand milligrams. That's already half of your
needs for the day.
"Unfortunately, sodium is also linked to heart disease, high blood
pressure," she said. "You definitely want to limit your sodium intake."
Jessica Brière, with Complete Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Lenoir City, said the body
could perceive those preservatives as toxins.
"If it has a lot of preservatives in the food
then your body doesn't regulate it, and it can get accumulated," Brière said. "Also, stay away
from sugar-free products. The sugar that has been replaced by artificial sweeteners. Again, those
can be perceived as toxins in your body."
Dr. Roger Gaddis, with Holistic Family Care, said
there is a fine line when it comes to sodium intake.
"Avoid processed foods with lots of
salts," Gaddis said. "Sodium by definition is needed. Sodium chloride are needed for reactions as
well as even the nervous system, but you don't want to overload yourself with that."
recommended limiting sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day or more specifically 700 mg per
meal or less than or equal to 150 mg per item.
Sugar leads to obesity
experts also recommended limiting sugar intake. Besides increasing the risk of tooth decay and
obesity, Salyer said sugar intake could have an indirect effect on diabetes.
"Too much fat
and sugar are linked to obesity, which is again related to heart disease, diabetes and really
cancer too because high fat and high sodium intake and high sugar intake can all be related to
that," Salyer said. "If someone has diabetes in their past medical history, and they start putting
on weight due to whatever — sugar, fat, just eating too much — and they get the weight then they
are more apt to getting the Type 2 diabetes."
Salyer recommended consuming less than 10
grams of sugar per serving. One product high in sugar is soda.
"The sugars in a 12-ouce can
of soda is 39 grams; that's horrible," Salyer said, adding baked goods, like cookies and
children's cereal, are also high in sugar. "That is a major way that people get obese. They don't
realize how many calories come from their drinks."
Gaddis said high fructose corn syrup,
although it is frequently used in food across the nation, should be avoided.
associated with diabetes and obesity, and they have been relating it to cancers too," Gaddis said.
"We need to stay off of that stuff, and it's killing us. It's in everything. We have the highest
average weight of any country in the world, and there is a reason for that."
alternative for that sweet tooth? Natural sweeteners, he said.
Olive oil as
Salyer said many foods can be loaded with saturated and trans fat, which also
have a negative toll on the body.
"High fat and fried foods in general (are a problem)
because they simply add a lot of calories, and they have been linked to heart disease and cancer,"
Salyer said. The dietician said saturated fat, which is in animal and dairy products, is known to
clog arteries, leading to a higher risk of heart disease. Trans fat is similar to saturated
"Saturated is a fat that is hard at room temperature, and it comes naturally from
animal products whereas the trans fat you can take any kind of plant oil or whatever, and they
chemically process it and make it hard, so they make it similar to saturated fat," Salyer said,
"It's just the source is different.
"Basically, they take a liquid oil, which would
normally be a good fat, and they chemically process it and make it hard just like saturated fat,"
she added. "You need to look at both the trans and saturated fat and just know the trans fat is in a
lot of your baked packaged products like baked cookies, chips and things like that."
recommended people limit saturated fat to 2 grams or less per serving and trans fat to 1 gram or
less per serving.
"It's going to be individualized," Salyer said. "Obviously, kids that are
growing you don't want to limit them extremely in fat ... but past the age of 2 they are
recommending lower fat products. No more whole milk, any of that kind of stuff because they are
starting to find kids are clogging their arteries very early in life. Don't overly restrict kids,
but be aware that they still need to limit their fat intake for reasons of obesity and heart
disease, especially if it runs in the family."
Gaddis said stay completely away from
partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which consists of trans fat.
"We can't process
partially hydrogenated foods," Gaddis said. "Those are associated highly with coronary artery
disease, plaque in the arteries and heart blockages. We should cut those out all
He specifically said to stay away from margarine, shortening and baked goods like
sweetened cereals. Use cold pressed olive oil in place of partially hydrogenated vegetable
"Most of these oils are heat processed, which creates free radicals, which are what is
associated with damaging the arteries," Gaddis said." If you do cold pressed olive oils or cold
pressed oils to fry in that's better. The free radicals associate with the heat process, so the
partially hydrogenated vegetable oil like Crisco is heat processed. They have trans fatty acids. You
have to be careful."
"Limit your trips to fast food restaurants," Salyer said. "They are
high in fat and very processed. Go for the unsaturated fats, more fresh products, less processed
products and that kind of thing."
While avoiding and limiting these foods can help, health
experts said exercise and healthy eating are needed to lead a healthier lifestyle. Gaddis, Brière
and Salyer recommended a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, fiber and olive