20 Processed Foods We Should All Stop Eating Today

By molly atherton 4 months ago
In the quest for better health, it's essential to identify and eliminate harmful processed foods. This list highlights the common culprits that we should all consider removing from our diets for a healthier lifestyle.

Sweet Breakfast Cereal

One of the best ways to determine whether or not something is processed too much is to inspect the ingredient list on the back of the box.
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You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that the sugary cereals aimed towards children tend to be the worst for you. Admit it, you've had a bowl now and then!

Soda Bottles And Cans

You will have grown up drinking a whole array of sodas from Coca Cola and Pepsi to Arizona's and Calypso's. The problem is that almost all of them contain a long list of additives and sugars.
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This shows they're considerably processed before you get at the ring pull. You can try out some of the zero sugar varieties but really you should just cut them out.

Potato Chips

Potato Chips are products that we all buy regularly when we go out to the stores, sometimes as part of our lunches or sometimes just as a snack.
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They're addictive right? Well, you wouldn't be surprised to know that all the potatoes have been completely processed and are unhealthy for us with added salt and fat.


Bread, particularly white bread, is actually heavily processing during the baking of it, before it reaches the grocery shelves in the stores we go to.
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Many companies add a number of additives that you'll find on the packaging in order to try and keep it fresher for longer. Wholemeal is slightly better for you.

Candy Bars

You won't be surprised to know that candy bars contain lots of additives and sugars; all of this is part of a process timeline in order for the ingredients to be combined into those bars we love.
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You don't need us to tell you that we shouldn't be eating too many candy bars.  Maybe stick to one or two a week instead of having them as a daily treat.

Fried Chicken

Who doesn't love a bucket of fried chicken! You'd actually be better off, in terms of processed foods, to head to a chain like KFC to avoid so many additives.
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Frozen fried chicken that you purchase from the store contains a boatload of additional ingredients.  You can easily make your own - it'll probably taste better!

Mashed Potato Flakes

For some of us, mashed potato flakes are a suitable alternative to the real deal - it saves a bit of energy and even more time before we settle down to eat.
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Although they taste pretty similar, they don't offer the same natural flavours and nutritious values of a real potato.  Boil and mash your own.  You don't even need to peel them!

Energy Drinks

If you're struggling to keep yourself awake during the day, especially after a troublesome night with little sleep, you might be persuaded to open up a can of Red Bull or a Monster.
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The problem is that these are quite a dangerous and unnecessary boost of caffeine along with a can load of sugars that will cause you more harm than good, especially in excess.

Store Bought Granola Bars

You might think that all those cereal and granola bars you see in the aisles at your local stores are good for you but they are not!
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They contain added sugars and other unnecessary ingredients that don't benefit us. They might claim they're great for breakfasts but they're made up of things that will leave you hungry in an hour!


Pretty much all meat you'll pull off the shelves of your supermarket will have been processed in some form or another (those that aren't fresh cuts of  meat!).
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Although we all love some bacon in the morning (or the evening) it actually has so much salt and saturated fats. Neither of these, as I'm sure you can imagine, are good for you!

Sausages And Hot Dogs

It isn't just bacon that contains salt and fat, but so do all meats you buy pre-packed. I know, like bacon, a lot of us enjoy throwing a couple of sausages on the grill and some of them can taste great, but ......
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In reality it probably isn't worth putting yourself at risk. Heart disease is just one of the many health conditions linked to meat preservatives.  As with everything - in moderation.

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky, or any jerky for that matter, might be a delicious snack for all you meat-eaters out there, but it might not be so delicious when you take a browse of all the ingredients on the packaging.
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During the drying out period and in order to preserve the meat in packaging, a whole range of ingredients are placed within the product to keep it 'tasty' for our consumption.

Corned Beef

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Canned corned beef is heavily processed. All meats that are stored in cans before they are purchased have to contain additives and preservatives in order to make sure that the meat won't go off before you open it.

Ready Meals

I'm sure most of us don't really enjoy eating ready meals that often but you can't get away from the fact they can be really convenient for our lunches or late night meals after a long day at work.
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In order to keep them cheap and available, they tend to contain an insane amount of fats and salt which as you know is not appreciated by your heart!

Flavoured Nuts

You might not regularly eat flavoured nuts and it's more something you might come across when you're spending time at a party or something similar.
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They taste great (honey-roasted is my favourite) but they contain way more sugars, fats and salts than is worthwhile for your body. Maybe stick to the more boring plain nuts instead.

Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn can be a quick and easy way to get the feeling of being at the cinema when you're sat on the sofa and they usually taste pretty good as well, right?
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During the manufacturing process, artificial flavourings and preservatives are added which are not healthy for the body. Buy some popcorn kernels and make it yourself.

Instant Noodles

Instant noodles, like ready meals, can be a great and efficient option for our lunches as well as the fact they're easily portable for us to carry.
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These pot snacks are super processed and offer essentially no nutritional value whatsoever to us when we eat them. All those carbs probably won't do you too many favours either.

Fruit Snacks

Do you regularly feed your children those fruity snacks that are usually advertised as being healthy and great to get their fruit and veg servings for the day?
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Although they are made from real fruits, they tend to have quite a lot of sugar added to them, even though sugar is naturally present in the fruits anyway.

Butter Or Margarine

Although many of us were made to believe that margarine was healthier than butter but it actually turns out that they contain a load of processed fats added during the production.
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These fats are awful as high consumption of them can lead to some major issues like strokes and people suffering from heart disease and cholesterol problems.

Artificial Cracker Flavors

You might prefer some crackers instead of potato chips but the issue doesn't really change either way. In order for food products to be flavoured in a certain way ......
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They have to have a huge number of additives introduced to both the interior and external surface of the food. They might taste great but you'll probably regret it in the future.

Ice Cream

Almost all ice creams contain additives and sugars that are added throughout the production process, including all of the additional ingredients added to the milk and cream that would have been used to make it!
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You'd easily be able to get your hands on an ice cream maker and it would taste so much better, as well as being healthier for you!

Frozen Pizza

I think we can all agree that frozen pizzas are not a patch on fresh, restaurant ones!  Take into account their  "long life" random ingredients.
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We suggest purchasing chilled, fresh dough from the grocery store or, even better, make your own, where you can be as adventurous as you want!

Dried Pasta

Although pasta is actually quite a positive thing to add to your weekly diet, its still important that you don't have it everyday, keeping its usage in moderation.
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Too much pasta in your diet isn't great as you don't want to b eating carbs with every meal as it is. If you must, try introducing some alternatives like wholemeal pastas to the menu.

Sweetened Yogurt

Yogurts can be a great thing to introduce to your weekly meals - they're great when it comes to breakfasts. You can add them to granola or add them to your pancakes stack! But ......
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When you purchase the yogurts that are artificially sweetened or flavoured with all those nasties, think about buying natural yogurt in future and adding your own fresh fruit to it.

Canned Soups

Canned soups are another great option that we all have for our daily lunches at work or at home if we're feeling a little lazy.
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Some of them are better for us than others, especially those using lots of veg. Still though, they'll pretty much all contain a high quantity of salt and preservatives.

Pop Tarts

Okay, there probably comes a time when we're probably a little old to be eating these breakfast pastries; they are aimed at our children after all!
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They might taste great and be a little addictive, but that's EXACTLY the problem. They tend to contain way too much sugar, close to the amount you should be eating in an entire day in some cases!

'Sugar-Free' Snacks

This one might take you by surprise a little bit but those healthy (or supposedly healthy snacks) might actually not be doing you any favours at all.
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In order to get the same taste or sweetness as normal products, they'll add an alarming amount of artificial sweeteners which do you just as much harm as some of the real sugars you're trying to avoid!

Skinny Coffees

Some of us love our caffeine fix in the morning and we get it by buying refrigerated coffee drinks from local stores. There are a number of these on the market.
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You can even get sugar-free syrups at popular chains now too. These also contain some artificial sweeteners that cause our body to struggle to understand what we are forcing on it.

Maple Syrup

If you're looking to add some sweetness to your processed bacon on your (probably) processed pancakes, then you're probably going to reach for the bottle of processed maple syrup!
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Most syrups available on the market will have had corn syrups made up with the unhealthy sugars added to them. Get the expensive stuff as it will be the real deal.

Cheese Dips

We've probably all bought a cheese dip to go with our salty tortilla chips, or you've got some cinema nachos with the weird squishy cheese.
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These dips are often full of artificial flavours and colours which create an unnerving amount of ingredients. Just melt your own cheese instead - its probably a little more expensive but worth it in the end.

Here are some "healthy" foods that actually aren't! Some smoothie bowls

The trick with healthy smoothie bowls is that you have to do them in a certain way to actually get the health benefits - because sometimes they can easily step over the line into 'unhealthy'!
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To ensure a healthy smoothie bowl, you need a good balance of both fruit and veg with a portion size that doesn't overdo it.  The grab and go packs are packed with sugar.


If you thought you were eating a healthy breakfast, think again! You're much better off going for oatmeal which you can add fresh fruit or other healthy toppings too, because granola is a risky one.
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A packaged brand of granola can include a lot processed oils, sugar, even sometimes chocolate chips in certain brands, as well as more calories than you'd expect!

Veggie chips

If you switched to veggie chips thinking you were doing a little bit of good in the world when it comes to your diet, we have some bad news for you.
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Veggies chips claim to be made from real vegetables, but a lot of the time they'll have 'veggie powders' instead, which don't have the same nutritional value as actual vegetables.

Agave syrup

Agave is a popular choice as a healthier alternative to things like honey or syrup, but sadly, what it lacks in a glycemic index (which is why a lot of healthy people choose to have it) it more than makes up for in fructose.
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It actually has more fructose in it than white sugar  - a whopping 80/90 percent more! Another issue is that you might even be using more of it than you would regular sugar, because you think it's healthier.

Flavored yogurt

Yogurt is a great option as a healthy snack if you're also looking for good gut health, but the issue is which yogurt you choose to have.
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Some are more healthy than others, and when it comes to flavored versions, this is the most likely to have a higher sugar content (because it tastes sweeter and more flavorsome!)

Diet soda

Most people know these days that diet soda isn't as diet friendly as it's making itself out to be, but still people opt for it over full-fat version in a bid to be a bit healthier.
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The best choice if you really want to be healthy is just to cut any soda out altogether. Diet sodas don't have the same high sugar content, but they do contain artificial sweeteners.

Snack packs at 100 calories

These snack packs are a fantastic idea for people .who want, or need, to count their calories.  The issue with these is that they're mostly full of empty calories with no nutritional value.
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Not only that but you're likely to eat more of them because you're thinking the packet only contains 100 calories.  Be smart and don't fool yourself!

Spinach wraps

Spinach is one of the healthiest things in your diet for vitamins and minerals except when the spinach isn't freshly made, when it comes ready made in one of a store bought wrap.
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There's barely any spinach left, at least in terms of nutritional value. The wraps are usually made with refined tortilla ingredients, like white flour and corn.

Sports drinks

You should definitely only be drinking sports drinks when you're working out to complement your exercise routine, but because of this, many people think they're having a healthy drink.
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Sports drinks have a huge amount of calories - as well as a huge dose of sugar - so you really shouldn't be chugging them back around casual, low impact exercise.


This might seem an obvious one in the 'things that aren't healthy' box but these days a lot of people turn to muffins as a 'healthier' alternative to other baked goods.
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We're sorry to burst your muffin shaped bubble. They have a ton of calories and some can contain over a third of your recommended daily fat intake!

Snacks that are gluten free

There are people who need to eat gluten free foods due to their allergies and in general, gluten free food is not a 'healthier alternative'.
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You can find the same amount of calories, sugar, fat or sodium in gluten- free snacks as you can in the regular variety so read nutritional labels on products.

Microwave popcorn

None of us, sitting with a massive bag of popcorn, are thinking it's a healthy snack but there is a way you can make it worse - and that's by microwaving it.
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This pre-packaged popcorn is extremely high in chemicals, additives, and a HUGE amount of saturated fat that your diet plan isn't going to thank you for.  You might want to choose a different movie night snack!

Dried fruit

If you thought dried fruit is a good, healthy choice, you're sadly mistaken.  The fructose in the fruit actually becomes more concentrated when it is dried.
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This means you'll be getting a higher amount of it in smaller doses compared to fresh fruit of the same portion size. There's also the risk of manufacturers putting extra sugar on theirs!

Yogurt parfaits

This one is tough to digest - pun intended - because you'd think that a mixture of healthy yogurt and fruit would mean an absolute winner of a snack but ......
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Much the same as smoothie bowls, ready-made yogurt parfaits sold in stores are likely have a high amount of added sugars or sweetened yogurt, compared to the healthy one made at home.

Blue corn tortilla chips

Lots of people have turned to blue corn chips in a bid to be a little healthier because they contain more antioxidants than yellow corn.  However ......
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During the baking process, these antioxidants reduce which means most blue corn chips, off the shelf w,ill be pretty much the same as processed yellow corn chips!

Frozen TV dinners

These are extremely handy after a long day at work and sometimes you don't think they're too unhealthy if it's a meal that sounds high in nutrition.
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Ultimately, any frozen dinner dish is going to be unhealthy for you because of the amount of added sodium as well as a whole host of preservatives.

Soup in a can

Soup has always been marketed as being on the healthy side because it's full of vegetables, containing one of your five a day.  The tin, however, contains some nasties.
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You'll be getting a high amount of sodium as well as Bisphenol A - or BPA - which can disrupt the body. You can also expect sugar and fat in those cans, too.

Fruit cocktail from a can

Basically, be wary of anything in a can that you can easily make from fresh yourself!  It's an unhelpful choice because of how it is preserved.
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Canned fruit cocktail can seem a good choice if you don't want fresh fruit to spoil, but the reason it doesn't spoil is because it's relaxing in syrup and sugar!

Certain fruit juices

When you're trying to be healthy on a daily basis, you might reach for fruit juice. That has to be healthy, right? It's fruit!  Unfortunately, that's not so.
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You're likely getting a high amount of sugar content and shockingly, you might actually be drinking more sugar than you would be with a can of cola!

Protein bars

Finishing strong with this one, protein bars are often eaten by people working out or wanting a 'healthy' office snack, but all you're getting is almost the same as a candy bar!
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Protein bars come with sugar and some of them will also be available in chocolate varieties. Not only that, many of them can have more carbohydrates than they do actual protein!