Why You Should Avoid Processed Foods

Rich Donahue
Rich Donahue is a Natural Health Enthusiast and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Natural Health from the Sandy Hill Institute For Natural Sciences. Mr. Donahue is also a Reiki Master/Teacher and Certified Healers Touch Practitioner. His website, PRIMEJuicers.com, is a dedicated to people who enjoy juicing and want to improve their health and lose weight by juicing fresh fruits and vegetables. He also writes about nutrition and natural health.
Rich Donahue
Rich Donahue
Rich Donahue

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Rich Donahue
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processed food

First, let’s define what processed foods are. Generally speaking they are those foods found in stores that have been prepared and stored for consumers. Those products on the inner isle. Products like canned or frozen foods are generally considered processed foods. White bread and even some whole wheat breads are considered processed foods. Condiments like ketchup, barbeque sauce and salad dressings are processed foods and of course fast food establishments serve processed foods. Processed foods are products that have been cooked or altered from their natural state so they can be stored long term resulting in nutrient deficient food.

Processed Foods Are Unhealthy

When food is processed, nutrients are lost, including fiber. Some products may be fortified or enriched to compensate for the lost nutrients, but fiber is not always added back to foods and the fortification or enrichment is not as beneficial as the natural whole food.

Sodium, added sugars and/or fat may be added during processing. Read the Nutrition Facts Label and Ingredient List when buying processed foods. You may be surprised at the amount of sodium and sugar! Processed foods are linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other illnesses. Food processing may also alter food in ways that might increase the risk of cancer.

Processed Foods: 5 Condiments to Avoid

  1. Mayonnaise. Commercially prepared mayonnaise is loaded with fats.
  2. Sour Cream. Commercially prepared sour cream contains lots of fillers and preservatives.
  3. Ranch Dressing. Read the label. Much of what is on the label bears little resemblance to food.
  4. Ketchup. If you use commercially prepared ketchup you are getting a lot of high fructose corn syrup which quickly builds your daily sugar intake.
  5. Barbeque Sauce and Steak Sauce. Again, not much that goes into these sauces can be identified as real food.

What is the solution to these processed foods?

Many will say, make your own sauces at home. That’s great advice, but is it realistic for you? Maybe not. If you’re like me, cutting down and using more healthful alternatives may be a viable solution. If you really love mayonnaise cut back, way back. I’ve found I don’t need very much. Less is better. Or, check your local health food store for a more healthful alternative. As for ketchup, I’ve found I really don’t need it. I don’t need the ketchup! Cut back or eliminate it. Your body will thank you.

Avoid fast food. You can check the nutrition facts from fast food websites. Here’s one from McDonalds. Fast food is often high in calories, sodium, sugar and fat. Fast food and processed foods are sometimes convenient, but when I remember how unhealthy they are, I stay away from them. Eating plenty of whole foods like fruits and vegetables can help prevent diabetes, heart disease, control your blood pressure and prevent some types of cancer. Juicing

What about Juicing?

I don’t consider fresh fruit and vegetable juice to be processed, but technically I guess juicing is. I use fresh fruits and vegetables from the supermarket, or better yet I grown my own. I don’t add anything to my juices unless it’s natural. I’ve found juicing to be very healthy and it helps me to get more fresh fruits and vegetables into my diet. My website, PRIME Juicers, has a lot of delicious healthy juicing recipes.


  1. Priya Ranjan says:

    Very good and pertinent post. We’ve also adopted two habits for food – 1. Go Organic, and 2. Avoid stapled food. It is helping us keep healthy. Thanks!

    • Twitter:
      Hello Priya,
      Yes, and thank you. Best wishes!
      Rich Donahue recently posted..PRIME Juicers Monthly Giveaway!My Profile

    • Twitter:
      You managed to completely discard processed food, Priya? How exactly have you been able to achieve that marvelous feat?( Because, each time I make the resolve not to go processed again, I just discover that I need a bit here or there). Any special tips?

      Do have a great Sunday!
      Akaahan Terungwa recently posted..GETTING MORE DONE IN LESS TIME: 5 TIPS THAT ACTUALLY WORKMy Profile

      • Priya Ranjan says:

        1. learn cooking, and 2. get raw foods from farms

      • Gail Gardner says:

        Hi Akaahan,

        It isn’t as difficult as it sounds, especially this time of year. You can grow your own OR go to the local farmer’s market OR join a CSA. You can find CSAs through the site LocalHarvest.org. Or search for your location and the hashtag #EatLocal on Twitter.

        Few realize there is food growing wild almost everywhere. Just yesterday I had a salad of lambs quarters, wood sorrel, clover flowers, dandelion flowers and greens, and prickly lettuce. I picked all of it fresh from the front yard. There are some excellent videos on YouTube on identifying edible plants that are safe to eat. (Best if you can find someone to teach you, though.)

        If we buy from local growers they will grow more and more food. If you learn to can or dehydrate you can buy during the summer when food is plentiful and cheap and eat all winter. Making chicken or turkey soup is easy to learn. Can or freeze the broth and poultry and then add potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, etc. either when you cook it or when you decide to use it.

        Condiments are available that are organic. Buy from your local health store or online from places like SwansonVitamins.com or Eden’s Foods. Even if they are a little more expensive you will be gaining your health and avoiding medical bills! Organic food is more filling so I actually eat less of it so it ends up being LESS expensive instead of more expensive overall.

        Anyone can grow food anywhere. See the great videos on YouTube in the GrowingYourGreens channel. Start with something easy – like squash or zucchini. Grow in a container or a raised bed. I even saw people offering to build and fill raised beds on Craigslist so all you have to do is plant. You can buy plants to start with from a local nursery.

  2. Twitter:
    I should quit eating some !
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  3. Twitter:
    Sometimes doing the ‘right thing’ takes a little extra amount of work. But it is worth it really isn’t it?
    I am 14 months without ‘fast food’.
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  4. James McAvoy says:

    Are there alternatives or at least healthier versions of sour cream and mayonaise available in a regular grocery store? I’m looking for something that would be healthy for me and yet as easy as getting it off the shelf. I just don’t really have time to make anything from scratch myself.

    • Twitter:
      Hi James,
      Great question. There are healthier alternatives to mayo. A substitute for mayo is Nayonaise. Check your local grocery for that one. For sour cream you could try substituting greek yogurt or you could try cottage cheese. A very simple recipe is cottage cheese and lemon juice.

      There are the “light” versions of mayo and sour cream which should be better (compare the labels though). I use the light versions sometimes. An occasional serving of mayo or sour cream won’t harm you, but regularly eating it will eventually negatively affect your health.

      As I mentioned, I’ve cut way back from my old unhealthy habits of loading the mayo on sandwiches. I also use mustard more often than mayo. Mustard is healthier. It sometimes is as easy as portion control. Thanks and best wishes!
      Rich Donahue recently posted..PRIME Juicers Monthly Giveaway!My Profile

  5. Twitter:
    I don’t really eat fast food or too many process foods, but I do use the condiments you say to avoid. I’m eating a lot healthier now than I did about a year ago though. I guess I’ll start cutting back on those terrible condiments.
    AldoRancier recently posted..The Friday FiveMy Profile

  6. Twitter:
    Yes you are right processed foods are unhealthy and we should avoid processed foods. This post is really helpful. Thanks for this advise and this great information on unhealthy foods.
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  7. Twitter:
    Absoultely! Research has repeatedly shown that consuming an unrefined and unprocessed diet is far healthier than one high in processed foods.

    Fresh food will contain a higher proportion of naturally occurring fibre, vitamins and minerals than the same food after processing by the food industry. Vitamin C, for example, is destroyed by heat and so fresh fruit will contain more vitamin C than canned fruit.
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  8. Twitter:
    Thanks, brilliant information, thanks for sharing it with us :)
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  9. Rahul Suresh says:

    Natural foods are always unbeatable ones..mostly processed foods are always dirt to our body also…

  10. Twitter:
    Hello Rich,

    I appreciate these awesome tips of yours. However, cutting off processed foods off completely isn’t a viable option as most of our lives depend on it. In my estimation, a healthy balance between processed and fresh food would just be great – and okay. What do you think?

    Akaahan Terungwa recently posted..GETTING MORE DONE IN LESS TIME: 5 TIPS THAT ACTUALLY WORKMy Profile

  11. Scarlet says:

    Plus, processed foods just don’t taste as good. For example, a glass of store bought apple juice tastes almost nothing like a freshly juiced glass of apple juice.

  12. Twitter:
    Good point!
    Juicing is really a healthy thing compared to processed foods. It is better to take small juice instead of taking a lump of processed food.
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  13. Yes you are right it is not practical to make your own sauce at home and many other things are also right . But we should still avoid processed foods.
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  14. Twitter:
    Hi Rich,

    Thanks for this awesome (and organic) tips! I have been eating processed food for years without knowing the CONs of it. Thanks for making us aware with it. Juice is more easy to digest and at most of the time it tastes quite good. :)

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  15. Alex Taylor says:

    Hi Rich great informative post I am totally agree with you ,
    Processed food are the example to put bad gas on your vehicle,
    Most of the customers even don’t realize that such food demolish the vitamins and significant enzymes while processing. Finally result is the intake intake of empty calories leaving adverse.

  16. Twitter:
    I recently cut my fast food intake even though I wasn’t ever really into fast food. Sometime I find myself at subway after a long busy day and don’t feel like making dinner.
    Tony recently posted..4 Fitness Myths That Might Be Holding You BackMy Profile

  17. Processed food is not healthy, I think everyone know this thing but they don’t have control on them. So they can’t stop them by consuming these foods. This article consist every single thing about the processed foods. This is a nice article. Thanks for sharing this info.

  18. I think it will be very perfect to do a lot of workout in addition to cutting down the amount of processed food being eating as this will burn away those fat being consumed from the food. Also, self determination to quit these processed foods should be the first thing to do. That was how I did my own. Let me ask this question, is there a simplest ways one can do this for those who are already an addict to processed food?
    Alabi recently posted..Best Tip A Professional Secretary Used To Lose WeightMy Profile

    • Twitter:
      Hi Alabi,
      That’s a great point. Exercise is very important.
      One way to start change is to simply make a list of the pros and cons of eating better. That’s what helped me in the beginning. I looked at that list often.
      If you’re trying to get others (maybe family) to change it may help to just be a good example yourself and they will follow :-) In my experience, kids will follow and eat healthy if the parents do. Thank you for dropping by and commenting. Best wishes!
      Rich Donahue recently posted..Juice Fast – 48 Hour Juice Cleanse Afternoon/Evening Day 2My Profile

  19. Jaki Neog says:

    Till today i can’t figure out, if we really avoid processed foods, then what we should go for?

    • Twitter:
      Hi Jaki,
      If it’s available to you one great way to start is to snack on raw fruits instead of junk food. That’s a huge step for people! No one is perfect, but we can all progress a little. From there, more vegetables at meals. Whole foods, like fruits and vegetables are key to good health. Replace processed foods at meals with whole foods. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Best wishes.
      Rich Donahue recently posted..Juice Fast – 48 Hour Juice Cleanse Morning Day 2My Profile

  20. Amilia joe says:

    I rely on packed food a lot, but after reading this i am determined to saying NO to Packed food.

  21. Hi Rich,

    Must say it’s an healthy post :)

    I was eating (I would rather say surviving) on processed food without knowing the harm of it. Thanks for your valuable and cautious tips.

    Time to go for juice!
    Sayantan Mahato recently posted..How to Get Instant FIFA World Cup 2014 Updates on Your PhoneMy Profile

  22. Twitter:
    Hi rich

    actually i like mayonnaise very much, everything i consume, does not complete with that one.
    I forget that mayonnaise is so fatty

    thank you for remembering me

  23. Twitter:
    Hi Rich, in my experience, the best way to eat healthily is to learn to cook; moreover it happens to be the most fun. Processed foods are like placing bad gas in your vehicle…Maximum consumer does not realize that “live food” has major vitamins and enzymes that are demolished in processing. Thanks for nice share.
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  24. I bought a food processor so it’s super easy to make my own mayonnaise, soups and sauces. I feel better knowing what goes into the food I prepare rather than just buying it off the shelves!

  25. Thanks for this great post, It’s really useful for online readers. Processed foods are like placing bad gas in your vehicle…
    Utmost consumer do not realize that “live food” has significant vitamins and enzymes that are demolished in their processing. The result is the intake of empty calories with additives, many of which have a long “rap sheet” of adverse effects on the body.
    Thanks for sharing this… I really appreciate your efforts.
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  26. Avinash says:

    That was a marvelous article by u Rich. I appreciate your tips but I’m so sorry to say it’s impossible for me to even think of quitting processed food…. Still I will give it a try… A thought arose in my mind to go healthier… Go organic bcoz of ur article… Thnkx

  27. Kelly Stallings says:

    I have a friend who has been trying to get me to go to a juicing diet! It’s tough and expensive to do but SO healthy!!!

  28. Yes Processed Foods are not good for health… We should try to avoid these kinds of fooods….

  29. Thanks for this great post, It’s really useful for online readers. Processed foods are like placing bad gas in your vehicle…
    Utmost consumer do not realize that “live food” has significant vitamins and enzymes that are demolished in their processing. The result is the intake of empty calories with additives, many of which have a long “rap sheet” of adverse effects on the body.
    Thanks for sharing this…
    Very True…!!!!
    lalina recently posted..Gmail Login – http://www.Gmail.com – Gmail Sign InMy Profile

  30. Alexis Smith says:

    You’re right is saying that processed foods are not good for the health. My family and I has been thinking of switching to more organic choices but the kids just really loves ketchup. And salad doesn’t taste as good without dressing. Do you know any shop that sells organic ketchup and dressings?

  31. Thomas Androws says:

    This post is really awesome, and I’m going to avoid processed food from now.

  32. One simple rule to follow:
    Eat your fruits, juice your vegetables.
    One way to avoid processed foods is to only eat those foods which are closest to nature in their pure form.
    Lalina recently posted..Gmail Login – http://www.Gmail.com – Gmail Sign InMy Profile

  33. Richard Benson says:

    Thats right! Research has proven that consuming an unrefined food is far healthier than one high in processed foods.

    Fresh food contain naturally occurring fibre, vitamins and minerals than the same food after processing by the food industry…amazing article !!

  34. its kinda impossible to leave processed food…i am so use to it.
    though i agree with lalina that processed foods are like placing bad gas in your vehicle…

  35. I agree it is hard to break that old habit. It takes some time, but even a little progress in the right direction, like cutting back, is good for health. Thank you and best wishes!

  36. Anunoy Samanta says:

    I totally agree with you Rich… just wish I could have more control over my gluttony :-P

  37. Twitter:
    Thank you for this article. It is help us keep healthy.
    Good day
    marc.donovan recently posted..Best Mobile Password ManagerMy Profile

  38. Twitter:
    Eating processed food is the new trend! as its easy to cook and saves lots of time. But now its time to stop it. Thanks for the info.
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  39. For almost half century western world were hugely depend on processed food but now they are shifting back to organic food.

    I also dont see any benefit of taking processed food. Better we buy fresh vegetables from market and cook fresh.

    Thanks again and now i am going to check your juice site :)
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  40. Nice article today i know some thing new about processed food. thanks for sharing article.
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  41. Thomas Zinsavage says:

    They really are horrible for you. I will freely admit I am guilty of eating them myself. I am doing my best right now to diet and fight the urges though. Will be a tough road, but I am up for the challenge.

  42. Very informative post. People are eating so much processed and food with preservatives, some due to time shortage, some for taste and some other reasons. I would just like to add here that the more natural and healthy we eat, the more naturally we will be healthy.
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  43. PaulJosaph says:

    Hello Rich:
    Great Post!
    Processed foods tend to have more additives that do not contribute to a healthy diet. Sugar and salt are frequently added to foods that could taste as good or better if prepared with less. Some fiber and nutrient content are lost in the processing. It’s very difficult to avoid all processed foods.

  44. Twitter:
    The only way to really be sure that we’re eating good food is to prepare & cook it ourselves & even then, it depends on the ingredients used. But when we spend most of our time at work and on the road, its difficult to oversee that aspect of our life. Knowledge is a good start, then gradually we can improve our lifestyle and make better choices.

  45. Actually processed foods are not good for health, we eat it up restrictions, actively cooking at home with fresh food ….
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  46. jardness says:

    it’s hard to avoid processed food. but will try.. huhu

  47. Twitter:
    Processed foods contain excess sodium (common salt), preservatives and various flavoring agents, which are harmful. Although these ingredients are permitted under law, to be used in foods.
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  48. Twitter:
    thats good healthy food tips,,thank for sharing
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  49. Twitter:
    I recently had the good fortune to read David Gillespie’s Big Fat Lies – a real eye opener. Basically he says there are two main substances to avoid. Sugar as it stuffs with our appetite controls and leads us to being fat. Polyunsaturated Oils as they are unstable and lead to cancer and other health issues. It is a really interesting book and I recommend checking it out.
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  50. Twitter:
    That’s a very informative article! It’s very difficult to avoid processed foods because they are very tasty!
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  51. Twitter:
    Hey Rich,
    Very informative post and Thanks for telling us about processed food and its side effect. Its difficult for us to avoid processed food because it have good taste and we are so attached to it but points you mentioned above really help us to avoid them.
    Sudipto recently posted..Best Android Phone Under 12000 In IndiaMy Profile

  52. Twitter:
    My main gripe with processed foods is the quantity of salt and sugar that’s added for taste. It’s so unhealthy and causes so many health problems.
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  53. Twitter:
    processed foods are good, but are harmful to your health, good article, very insightful.
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  54. Hi Rich,

    I have heard many times about processed food, that are really unhealthy. I still use in my daily routine, but i now i have to think over it.
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  55. Twitter:
    It is so difficult sometimes to say no to adding the sauces to what you are eating. They are so good. I think one of the things you should be aware of too is that you should avoid things that have high fructose corn syrup in them unless you plan on working out right after eating it. I didn’t realize that sour cream was bad. I will have to check that out when I get home. Thanks for the tips on foods to avoid.
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  56. Twitter:
    nowadays people realized how dangerous processed foods so the go to organic food which is much better ;)
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  57. Twitter:
    Yes process food is always bad for health. I always avoid processed food

  58. Some of the condiments here are some foods that I love! haha, but no I understand completely. I am actually a vegetarian and I love the benefits and the energy I get from eating healthy. I do, however, eat some fattening foods once in a while. As long as you don’t overdue it, it won’t hurt. I do love juicing too. You should also eat greens and fruits everyday! Thanks for sharing.

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  59. odane Birch says:

    processed food contain refined sugar and refine sugar is bad for your health.. i believe juicing can be done but with as little sugar as possible

  60. Twitter:
    Hi Odane,
    Thank you for commenting! I really stay away from refined sugar, you’re right, it’s bad. Thank you and have a great day!
    Rich Donahue recently posted..PRIME Juicers Monthly Giveaway!My Profile

  61. Twitter:
    Completely avoiding processed foods is a herculean task in itself! And every time i try to follow that, one time or the other i go lenient. The better way would perhaps be to lessen and not totally eliminate processed foods. Adopting a healthier diet could out mar all the dangers! Thanks for the post though!

  62. Twitter:
    I do try to keep clear of processed foods as much as I can, after all, we do have to keep our bodies healthy, they are the only ones we get and we can’t just trade them in like a new car etc.
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  63. Juicing is really a healthy thing compared to processed foods. It is better to take small juice instead of taking a lump of processed food.

    Good point Ajay
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  64. Now i’ll have liquid diet as much as possible and that too must be fresh.
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  65. Zach Cooper says:

    “Commercially prepared mayonnaise is loaded with fats”

    Just because something is high in fat does not make it unhealthy… Mayonnaise is predominantly comprised of olive oil, which is high in an omega-9 fatty acid called oleic acid. These fats have nothing but favorable effects on the body

    I would agree with you that commercially prepared mayonnaise does contain hydrogenated oils, which are a dangerous type of trans fats. However, homemade mayonnaise not only tastes better but is extremely healthy

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