Processed foods have a bad reputation for being unhealthy and are considered a major player in our nation’s obesity epidemic.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some processed foods do have a place in a balanced diet.
The term "processed food" includes any food that has been changed in some way. Foods that have been cooked, canned, frozen or packaged, as well as foods that have been fortified, preserved or prepared.
Some processed foods are beneficial. Milk can be fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Hard-boiled eggs and frozen vegetables add nutritional value to your diet.
The trick is to look for hidden sugar, sodium and fat.
Sugar can be added to bread, pasta sauce and cereal, so it's important to read labels. Also, choose foods labeled "no salt added," "low-sodium" or "reduced sodium." Finally, avoid food with trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.