When you think “treat,” you may think “junk food.” It’s true that many treat foods are highly processed. But there are also plenty of lightly processed treats, too. These foods can provide nutrients that are missing from highly processed foods.
Highly vs. Lightly Processed
When a food is highly processed (like packaged cakes and sugary cereal), it’s more likely to come with a bunch of added sugar, salt, or saturated fat. Highly processed foods can also have additives, dyes, and artificial flavors. If the ingredients list has a bunch of items that don’t normally appear in your kitchen (such as modified oils, Red #40, high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, etc.), chances are it’s highly processed. These additives can add up and pose risks for our health if we eat them too often.
Lightly processed foods (like whole grain breads or steel cut oats) are still convenient, but tend to have a lot less of these unhealthy additives. The more natural ingredients, the better.
Treats are supposed to be fun. And it is possible to eat something tasty that doesn’t have loads of saturated fat and added sugar. Some treats even have nutrients you need like calcium or fiber.
Here are some highly processed treats, and healthier foods you can try instead.