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New Study Regarding the Value of Processed Foods

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A new study published in the June 2014 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition focuses on the important contribution that processed foods can make to good nutrition.  The authors of the study concluded that processed food contributes to both nutritional security and food security for households, and that food science professionals and the food industry should work together to improve the diets of consumers through increased education of options.

The study’s authors analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to show that processed foods in one's diet provide substantial amounts of nutrients, including 55 percent of dietary fiber, 48 percent of calcium, 43 percent of potassium, 34 percent of vitamin D, 64 percent of iron, 65 percent of folate, and 46 percent of vitamin B-12. NHANES data analysis also showed that of the constituents to limit in one's diet, processed foods contributed 57 percent of energy, 52 percent of saturated fat, 75 percent of added sugars, and 57 percent of sodium.  

Other key points from the paper include:
  • Both fresh and processed foods make up vital parts of the food supply

  • Processed foods provide both nutrients to encourage, and constituents to limit in one's diet, as specified in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans 

  • Diets are more likely to meet food guidance recommendations if nutrient-dense foods, either processed or not, are selected 
"The term ‘processed foods’ evokes a wide range of assumptions and beliefs about what is a healthy food," said lead author Connie Weaver, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and Department Head, Nutrition Science, Purdue University. "This study concludes that making food selections based on nutrient composition, and not extent of processing, is a better way to determine nutrition adequacy." 

Article written by Rob Neenan, President/CEO, California League of Food Processors  

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