List Of Processed Foods You Should Avoid

what is processed food

We eat so many different food items on a daily basis. Some are fresh, local foods, while others come pre-packed at supermarkets. If you are not aware of processed foods and their harmful effects on our bodies, then this article is a must-read for you.

What Is Processed Food?

Processed food by definition is any food item with a series of chemical and mechanical operations performed on it to preserve or change the composition. These come packed in a bag or box and contain a lot of different items in the ingredient list. 

There is a list of foods that are healthy while others are unhealthy. Healthy processed food items include nut butter, Greek yogurt, tofu, organic stock, unsalted canned beans, frozen vegetables, and whole grains.

Keep reading to learn about some of the most unhealthy foods and snacks we consume on an everyday basis.

List of most unhealthy processed foods

There are many different techniques of food processing. On one end, vegetables are cut and portioned then packed in individual bags to be sold. In contrast, some highly processed foods contain many ingredients like salt, sugar, oil, and empty calories like frozen pizza.

Additives in your food like fat and salt help to keep the food safe for consumption. Preservatives are also added into the processed food to increase shelf life. 

Processed food can end up providing twice that necessary daily dose of sugar and sodium content. 

Below we have mentioned a list of unhealthy processed foods that you should avoid consuming.


Bacon contains high amounts of sodium content which can cause high blood pressure. Wait, this is just the beginning of the bad part.

One reason why bacon tastes delicious is because of saturated fats. Saturated fat is known to cause obesity and heart diseases.

The amount of preservatives store-bought bacon contains are also danger alert. Preservatives are known to cause many different health issues like headaches and even cancer.

 According to WHO, processed meats like hot dogs and bacon are classified as carcinogens. As they contain high amounts of nitrates, preservatives are considered as harmful as cigarettes.

Each pan-fried slice of bacon contains 194 mg of sodium. The AHA recommends 15,00 to 23,00 mg sodium for a healthy adult every day. One piece of bacon accounts for 8-13 percent of every day’s sodium intake.

Instead, consume avocados. It’s rich in healthy fats and proteins and has a hearty flavor like bacon. Try eating avocado and eggs or make lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich.

Granola bars

Granola bars or cereal bars are stuffed with hearty grains and come packaged in boxes. Unfortunately, granola bars are loaded with added sugar that is quick to digest and doesn’t curb hunger for a long time.

Granola bars are the most unhealthy snacks with healthy marketing. They do not add any nutritional value to our diet. They contain high amounts of carbohydrates with a long list of unknown and hard to pronounce ingredients.

Instead of buying processed food and making your own healthy granola bar, you can experiment with different recipes. You can also control the amount of sugar you want.

Microwave popcorn

Popcorn, in general, is a healthy snack; however, microwave popcorn falls into the list of unhealthy processed foods. Like any other processed food, these contain perfluoroalkyl, one of the chemicals found in microwave popcorn bags. This chemical is known to cause many health problems like poor semen or impaired kidney function.

One serving of Pop Secret butter popcorn contains 270 mg sodium and 8g fat. However, every bag contains 3.5 servings of popcorn. According to AHA, saturated fats should make up for 5 to 6 percent of everyday calories. For someone who consumes 2,000 calories per day divided into 11 to 13 g saturated fat.

Instead, you should consume healthy options like buy corn kernels and pop-fresh popcorn.

Dried fruit

You might always reach out to dried fruits to curb your sweet tooth cravings, but there is a big reason why you find them satisfying. Dried fruits contain a large number of vitamins, fiber, and minerals, which make them a better choice than skittles.

However, you should be careful with your portion size because even small amounts of dried fruit contain high sugar and high calories. The extra sugar may make you put on weight.

When you take a closer look, dried fruits contain 32% – 66% sugar. You should never consume candied fruits which contain even more sugar content.

Suppose you search for a snack that is sweet and quick to consume; try frozen fruits instead. These come in bite-sized portions and are comparatively more versatile. You can add frozen fruits to your smoothies, yogurt, and desserts.

Fruit snacks

Fruit snacks are another unhealthy processed food that is enemies for both waistline and teeth. Most fruit snacks varieties contain only 1 percent of actual fruit and are packed with cane sugar and high fructose syrup. These sweeteners make you gain weight and can also increase the chances of diabetes.

Excess sugar and gelatinous can also stick to teeth and create an ideal environment for bacterial growth, which leads to cavities. 

One small pouch of flavored fruit snacks contains 11 grams of sugar. Instead, you should consume real fresh fruits which contain essential minerals and vitamins. 


Another one of the most unhealthy snacks is margarine. Although these are considered as the healthy alternative to butter, the truth is margarine is full of trans fats.

Trans fats are unhealthy versions of saturated and other types of fats. Trans fats increase LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the body, which can increase the chances of stroke and heart disease.

If you look closely at the nutritional label of margarine, you will see that it contains 38 mg sodium and 4 g fat.

A good alternative to margarine is mashed avocados. The richness and texture of avocados make it a useful spread. You can also use yogurt or nut milk when baking or cooking to replace margarine.


Ketchup is another most highly consumed unhealthy processed food. No matter which brand you pick, it is always bad news. Consuming little drops of setup every now and then is fine but slathering your fried burgers in ketchup is not a healthy habit. 

The tomato ketchup contains high amounts of diluted salt and sugar with zero nutritional value. Most of the calories in ketchup come from sugar.

Instead of hoarding ketchup packets for your fries, you can make your own tomato paste by mixing in vinegar. You can add a small amount of salt and sugar to match the flavor. 

Instant ramen

Instant ramen and cheap coffee are fueling the food of college students. However, it is better to stop as soon as you read this.

Instant ramen is loaded with high sodium content, which is responsible for increasing blood pressure. Most of the ingredients of instant ramen consist of carbohydrates with no nutritional value.

Also, the fat content in instant noodles is also very high. It contains 14 g of fat and 15,00 mg sodium. Instead, you should reach out to zucchini noodles. These can be used to make pasta or lasagna.

Frozen dinners

Frozen dinners are the next best option after takeout food. Anyways, who has the time to cook food every day in such busy schedules?

Frozen dinners give you a complete meal with starch, vegetable, and entree all on one plate. 

However, did you know that frozen dinners are packed with fat, sugar, and sodium? All these additives are responsible for heart problems and weight gain. These are responsible for increasing blood pressure and chances of stroke.

If you get frozen meals frequently, you must pick low sodium or organic versions with an ingredient list you can understand. In general, frozen meals contain 1,298 mg sodium, which is divided between gravy, cheese, mashed potatoes, and macaroni.

Instead, you should try recreating it easily to make meals or bake some biscuits on the day you are free. You may need some planning ahead, but it is worth your health.

Final Words:

Processed foods are not a modern invention. There is an endless list of processed foods that have been around for a long time. These are found to be convenient and provide you instant access to food when you are in a hurry.

Although it is impossible to shut out processed foods completely from our lives, consuming them in moderation is best. Always check the nutritional value of any food time you consume and stay away from anything you cannot pronounce.

You must always try to consume simple and fresh ingredients in your daily diet. As long as sultry, sugary, and fatty foods do not constitute our diet, you should be fine.

Some processed foods that are a healthier choice as compared to the unhealthy processed foods are:

  • canned fish- salmon, and tuna
  • frozen vegetable and fruits
  • low-sodium canned beans

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Hey There! I am A Makeup Artist turned into a Content writer. Intrigued by the world of digital marketing, I am currently working as an SEO Content Writer. Being a fashion enthusiast I enjoy writing blogs on Beauty, Fashion and Fitness Trends.