bucket o' junk food

Let’s first divide junk food into categories or ingredients. The categories will be; bread, sugar and fats.

Bread–Let’s starts out with wheat grains in a field somewhere. If you take a kernel of wheat and remove the fiber, germ, bran and the vitamins and minerals, what you have left is nothing but the carbohydrates or energy. This is done by the process of milling. Milling is done to improve the shelf life of bread. The bran which has oil in it, is removed because it putrefies rather quickly. White bread is called junk food because it is devoid of nutrients that were stripped during processing. But hold on a minute. White bread does have some redeeming characteristics. In the early 1940’s the U.S. government mandated the fortification of all white bread and cereals to include some of the stripped nutrients. These include B vitamins and folic acid.

Sugar–Sugar starts out generally the same way, as a naturally occurring plant. Most of our sugar comes from the cane plant or corn in the form of high fructose corn syrup or sugar beets. Processing sugar starts with pressing the cane or beets to extract the naturally sweet liquid inside, then allowing that liquid to dry into a loose crumble. The crumble is washed and dried to extract impurities and to pull out the molasses, resulting in the white crystalline structure we recognize as sugar. Molasses can be added back in to make light and dark brown sugar, or the sugar can be sold in the pure white form. The impurities from the crystallising process in both cases are a dark syrup called molasses. Processing cane or beets generally does the same thing as processing a stalk of wheat. You take away all the materials that don’t naturally remain intact for long periods of time and what you have left is a white crystalline substance we know as table sugar. This crystalline sugar is called junk food because it, like white bread is devoid of many of its naturally occurring nutrients.

Fats-Fats are different. There are certain fatty acids (contained in food fats) the body cannot make. Therefore, you must get them from food. There are many functions in the human body that require these fatty acids. The fats to watch out for,  “bad fats” are, saturated fats found in meats, butter, cream, or ice cream, and other foods with animal fat and trans fat, (a man-made fat found in some margarines or packaged baked). Good fats come from fish, nuts, seeds and other plants.  Dietary fat is categorized as saturated or unsaturated. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) should be the dominant type of fat in a balanced diet, because they reduce the risk of clogged arteries. Processed foods that are high in fat contain the “bad fats”. The bad fats are used because they are more stable and have a longer shelf life. Foods that contain a large amount of these kinds of fat are generally called junk foods.

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