Controversy sells magazines, newspapers and TV shows, you’ve just gotta read a copy of the Daily Mail or OK magazine to know this, but it’s hard, evidence based scientific facts that actually mean something… The US Nutrition Society has come out with what appears to be a Ludacris, attention seeking and controversial statement that asserts that processed meals could actually be an integral part of the US diet!
Nutrition Society states…
Their assertion was clear and concise, they say that processed foods are an important part of the US food supply and ensure that Americans meet nutritional guideline requirements.
Has it all been twisted!?
Are we now simply accepting processed foods as a viable option because too many people have become sucked into them and are now unable to get out? Or are processed meals just that, a meal, some sustenance and goodness that would ordinarily have been missed was it not for these ‘convenience’ meals? I would say this: If processed foods are a resource used by the general public to deliver some form of nutrition into the body, then so be it. Do I think that these are the best form of nutrition, no, but is it a form of nutrition all the same…darn right it is. I would sooner have a nation of people eating a processed food that is granted, high in salt and other preservatives, and yet delivers protein, carbs and veg in optimal ratios, than one that is chronically malnourished because it was unable to source, prepare and cook the foods they require.
Public turns to processed ‘snacky’ foods instead…
Too many people are unable to prepare and cook nutritious food. Call processed foods all the names under the sun ‘cheap’, ‘full of crap’, ‘high in this and that’, but when someone needs nourishment…they are there convenient, easy to cook and relatively cost effective. I should reiterate the fact that ready meals are NOT the best way to go, there is no better means of nutrition than whole foods. But should someone struggle to prep foods, then it’s 100x better to turn to a processed ready meal than crack open a packet of crisps, have a bowl of cereal, or eat a slice of bread with butter for example. A processed meal can have a positive impact on health and nutritional adequacy, but if these are consumed in inordinate amounts over regular, whole foods, then they may pose a health risk.
They still pose a health risk…
Don’t misinterpret this post, processed meals can be detrimental to health due to their high levels of salt, sugar and a plethora of preservatives. The indiscriminate consumption ready meals is NOT the way to go, but should you be in a position where time is limited or your skill set is incapable of making fresh meals, then a ready meal may be a nutritionally balanced alternative for you. It’s wise to note that the term ‘processed foods’ is very broad and may include a range of foods from ‘meat and two veg’, pasta dishes, sweet deserts and cookies. So clearly a diet of nothing more than this is not fit for purpose, but a ready meal that delivers some nutrient density is a viable option.
Stick with fresh, whole foods every time and steer clear of any foods that are processed if you can, this is the way it should be, the way nature intended. However, the Nutrition Society are simply trying to remind people that a processed food that delivers a protein source, starchy carb and veg is better than nothing, because the nutritional value of food left uneaten…is nil!
Medscape, (2014). Processed Food Is Vital in US Diet, Nutrition Society States. Retrieved 6th August, 2014, from Discount Supplements