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Processed foods linked to addictive eating behaviors

Eating healthy is a hot topic. Some of us post images of our meals on social media, while others turn to nutrition label claims on packaged foods for reinforcement for our good food choices.  However, food claims are usually limited to processed and packaged foods found in the center aisles of the grocery store. Think about it, when is the last time you saw a package claim on a banana?

A study published in PLOS ONE finds that highly processed foods appear to be associated with “food addiction”. For the purposes of this study, highly processed foods are defined as having the addition of fats and/or refined carbohydrates (like white flour and sugar) not found in nature.  These can include items like chocolate, pizza and fast food French fries as well as other foods such as peanut butter and yogurt.

Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a two-part study that first assessed participant perception of foods relative to addictive eating. They were asked to rank 35 foods that ranged from highly to minimally processed. All 10 highly processed foods on the list were categorized as problematic or addictive. The second part analyzed food attributes such as fat and sugar to further explore the association with addiction. Here it was found that both glycemic load and fat were predictors of addictive behavior. Researchers hypothesize that the increased rate in which these macronutrients are absorbed mimics that of other addictive substances. Unprocessed foods, without added sugar and fat such as brown rice, whole fruits, vegetables and chicken were not associated with addictive eating behaviors.

Eating a diet filled with nutritious fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins is something we whole heartedly believe in at Dole. The benefits to your health, longevity and mood are endless, and there’s the added benefit of short ingredients lists and knowing exactly what’s in your food!  Need a simple, Dole version of fast food? Try our Lemon-Ginger Spring Vegetable Stir Fry or our Asian “Fried Rice” with Quinoa.

Published March 1, 2018

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