We often read that refined foods are dangerous and must be avoided: sugar, flour type 00, salt, hydrogenated fats, palm oil. Excessive consumption of these foods could lead to increased blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and could also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
To stay in good health we should follow a healthy and balanced diet, do constant physical activity and avoid refined products, which can be very harmful to our health. Refined and processed foods are usually foods made from white flour, refined sugar, hydrogenated fats, salt, palm oil: all products that, as a result of the production process, are no longer in their natural state, but have been treated with additives and chemicals, thus losing many of their natural nutritional characteristics. Treated or processed foods contain – for example – additives phosphate, which give the food more flavor, as well as extending its shelf life. Then let’s find out which are the dangerous refined foods and what consequences they can have for our health.
Refined sugar: it increases the danger of obesity and diabetes
Refined sugar is among the foods considered to be among the most responsible for obesity and diabetes, but also for other diseases called "diseases of well-being", such as hypertension, problems related to metabolism or liver, as well as cardiovascular diseases. White sugar takes on this white color thanks to a refining process that includes the use of sulfur, animal charcoal and dyes which eliminate its yellowish color. After these treatments, sugar loses many of its nutritional characteristics. Cane sugar is also treated with sulfur, but there is no discoloration process. You can replace refined sugar with other natural sweeteners such as stevia, which must not be processed industrially, concentrated grape or apple juice, maple syrup or agave syrup or rice syrup.
Flour type 00: it weakens the organism exposing it to diseases and tumors
Flour type 00 is one of the most used ingredients in the kitchen and for the preparation of industrial products: it is the most refined flour among those we find on the market. Also in this case, the flour type 00 loses many of its nutrients during the processing: in particular the germ of the beans , which is rich in vitamins (such as vitamin E and B vitamins) in addition to important salts minerals, suffers the consequences of the process. The consumption of flour type 00 increases the level of blood sugar and insulin: this would lead to an increase in fats and a general weakening of the organism. Our body would be more exposed to diseases, including tumors. The flour type 00 can be replaced with flour type 2, wholemeal flour (which reduces the absorption of fats and cholesterol, as well as increasing the sense of satiety and promote intestinal transit), or with artisanal flours to be purchased from private mills.
Salt: it increases the possibility of cardiovascular diseases
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the daily consumption of salt should not exceed 5 grams per day: in Italy the daily consumption is at least twice. This exposes us to the onset of cardiovascular disease and could increase blood pressure, especially when you already suffer from hypertension. It is therefore important to reduce consumption or choose the right type of salt. You can replace the salt with the integral salt or the Himalayan pink salt, rich in sodium chloride and important mineral salts such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iodine and copper. It is also recommended to avoid or reduce the consumption of packaged industrial products, which contain high amounts of sodium.
Palm oil: vegetable oil that puts the heart at risk
Among the refined ingredients dangerous for health, we also find palm oil, present in many sweet or salty packaged foods, and that could also hide itself under the words "vegetable oil". Palm oil is considered harmful to our body as it is rich in saturated fats: which can even reach 80% in the case of palm kernel oil, that is the one obtained from seeds. Consuming foods that contain a high amount of saturated fat increases the risk of heart problems. To avoid it, check the ingredients of the products: currently there are many companies that have decided to eliminate it from the ingredients, just when palm oil has been put under accusation. However, always read the label carefully and avoid consuming ready-to-eat foods, snacks or spreadable creams.
Hydrogenated fats: they increase the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL)
The hydrogenated fats are present in consumer products such as cream snacks, margarine, ready-to-eat meals, frozen foods and bakery products. The hydrogenated fats are obtained through the processing of unsaturated oils to obtain different fats useful for industrial production, that are unsaturated fats. Also in this case it is important to read the label: the presence of these fats is in fact always reported among the ingredients. The hydrogenated fats contribute to the increase of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood, while decreasing the good cholesterol (HDL), moreover they make the blood vessels more rigid and this would negatively affect the blood pressure. These fats, which are also called "trans fats", can therefore promote the appearance of arteriosclerosis, stroke and cardiovascular disease.