The Better Choice : Packaged Juice v/s Coconut Water?
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Why is tender coconut water beneficial

It is hygienic, fresh, natural, and free of artificial sweeteners or preservatives. It provides you with the most critical salts like potassium and sodium. It is rich in lauric acid that helps destroy pathogens, thereby helping fight viral infections and the common cold.

Sugar content in coconut water

Coconut water tastes sweet thanks to its naturally present sugars. Eight ounces or 240 ml of unsweetened coconut water offers around 9.5g sugar, 10.5 carbs, and 44 calories.If you opt for packaged coconut water, its sugar content varies with the amount of sugar added by the manufacturer.

Consuming 330ml of sweetened coconut water is equivalent to almost four tablespoons of sugar. Hence, you must preferably look for beverages with less than 2g sugar per 100ml.Thanks to its half sugar content, unsweetened coconut water is a relatively better choice than several other beverages (like sugary soda).

Contains essential nutrients

It also contains calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, and vital amino acids. Daily consumption of coconut water keeps you hydrated, helps maintain your pH balance, and betters your kidney function.It helps fight constipation and acidity. Its vitamins and minerals help replenish electrolytes in your body and help keep blood sugar levels within limits.

Boosts the pace of your metabolism

Coconut water is excellent for you if you want to increase your metabolism or basal metabolic rate. The best aspect of coconut water is that it gives you a sense of fullness despite being relatively low on carbs. It hoards fewer calories, helps curb your hunger, and assists digestion. Packed with bioactive enzymes that are acknowledged to aid digestion, it boosts your metabolism and helps break down your accumulated fat.

Enhances blood circulation

Issues with blood circulation can give rise to several problems like vision problems, muscle spasms, or even kidney failure. Coconut water is acknowledged to better your blood circulation and helps restore the blood flow in your body, thereby averting issues related to blood circulation.

Fibre-rich source

Coconut and coconut water are immensely high in dietary fibre and are enriched in amino acids helping regulate your blood sugar levels. Its fibre content helps digestion and metabolism of sugar and improves blood glucose levels. Its fibre content is so high that coconut fibre is packed in capsule form, which is available as a health supplement.

Helps with weight loss

This natural drink is low in calories, rich in bio enzymes, and supports your digestion.

It is free of any artificial sweeteners and rich in several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it immensely healthy. It increases your metabolism and supports your weight loss. It is low on the glycemic index and contains little sugar

Processed Foods and Metabolism

The term Processed foods applies to any kind of food that has been altered from its natural state either for convenience or for increasing its shelf life or to reduce post-harvest losses. We live in a world where processed foods are easier and cheaper to come by than healthy whole foods. Research has shown that nearly 60% of food purchased is highly processed foods.

Though some amount of processing is required to ensure the safety of perishable foods like dairy and meat products, highly processed foods are said to be bad for your health, primarily because they slow down metabolism and give rise to many health conditions. Ingredients such as salt, sugar and fat sometimes are added to make the flavour more appealing or to help give it longevity that can lead to weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure

Are All Processed Food Unhealthy?

No! There are Two Ways that Foods can be processed: Mechanical and Chemical.

  1. ‍Mechanical : If only mechanical processing is done to a food with no added chemical, then it is still the real food and can be beneficial and play an important role in meeting the demands of a balanced diet. For example, pasteurised milk, boiled vegetables, and butter which is cream that has been separated from the milk and churned to get the final product are all processed yet healthy.‍
  2. Chemical : The second type of processing is chemical processing, which is what we should be more concerned about. This is because chemically processed foods, contain refined ingredients and other artificial substances that alter a product’s taste, health, and properties. They contain flavouring agents, colour, and sweeteners, all of which have little or no nutritional value and cause more harm than they give benefits.

What Are the Types of Processed Foods?

To understand the processed foods better, NOVA classification system is used that splits foods into four broad categories:

  1. Unprocessed or Minimally Processed Food : These foods usually undergo mechanical processing. They are usually dried, crushed, filtered, grounded, powdered, blanched and chilled, heated, etc. We use many such foods in our daily life, including milk, frozen vegetables, packed curd, mushrooms, nuts, eggs, spices and herbs, raw cuts of meat, cleaned fish, etc. These minimally processed foods are suitable for travel, transport purposes or to increase the shelf-life of the product. This food group forms the mainstay of a healthy, nutritious diet, and a major chunk of your grocery cart must contain foods from this group.
  2. Processed Culinary Ingredients : This group of foods contains ingredients that help you cook and often cannot be eaten all by themselves. Calorie-dense ingredients like oils, butter, sugar, and non-caloric ingredients like salt are an integral part of this group. Processed seed oils contain high omega-6 fatty acids that have been linked to an increase in triglycerides and LDL, both harmful to your cardiovascular system.
  3. Processed Food : When you combine the first two groups of foods such as baked beans in brine, canned fish in brine or fruit pulp preserved in sugar syrup, it creates foods with increased shelf lives. Checking the label of the food will help you know how the food has been packed. While some of these foods can be acceptable in your diet, it all comes down to the ingredients used in the product. When foods do not contain added sugar, salt, emulsifiers, or additives, they are considered not excessively processed but still healthy. However, the biggest risk with this group of foods is components like sugar that are hidden in different forms.
  4. Ultra-processed Food : This group of processed foods are by far the most dangerous to your metabolic and overall health. These foods are easily found in all stores, extremely cheap, and the various additives make them very addictive. Think of things you tend to munch or binge on! Products like energy bars, energy drinks, ice creams, biscuits, cereals, crackers, nuggets and many more. Manufacturers of these products create them by combining natural foods with synthetically created ingredients like preservatives.

Manufacturing Processed Food

The usual process to manufacture any ultra-processed food item is as below.

  • Step 1 : First, whole foods are broken down to create components like oil, proteins, fibre, sugar, etc.
  • Step 2 : Trans fats in these foods are created by a chemical process.
  • Step 3 : Next, these products face chemical modifications that break them down further.
  • Step 4 : Synthetic additives and food derivatives are then added to them, and Voila, your ultra-processed food is ready!

This manufacturing process clearly shows how the whole foods were modified and lost their original nutrients and health. A host of studies and research conducted has associated ultra-processed foods with a 39% increase in obesity and a 79% increase in metabolic syndrome.

Processed Foods and their Effects on Metabolism

It is now clear that processed foods do no good to us and our health. In fact, they cause more harm. Here’s how processed foods impact your metabolism and overall body health.

  • Increase insulin resistance and inhibit insulin sensitivity
  • Disrupt liver function
  • Cause oxidative stress in the body, the biggest reason for cancer
  • Cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome, causing GI disturbances
  • The trans fats added during the industrial manufacturing of foods promote inflammation in the body and increase cellular stress.

Excessive Processed Food - Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Due to the above effects of processed foods, people who consume a large amount of these foods cause conditions like Obesity and Metabolic syndrome. If you have three or more of the below mentioned risk factors, you may be eating a lot of processed foods.

  • Increased waistline
  • High triglycerides or on medication to lower their levels
  • Low HDL(good cholesterol) and high LDL(bad cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • High fasting blood glucose or require medication to bring the high blood glucose under control
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Cancer

Avoiding ultra-processed foods is a great way to tweak your existing lifestyle and make it a healthy one. Reading product labels before buying processed foods can guide you to eating healthy, minimally-processed foods. It may be impossible to eliminate processed foods from our diet altogether but taking the step to minimise their consumption can make a world of difference to your health.

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