Processed Foods and Type 2 Diabetes

Processed Foods and Type 2 Diabetes
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Processed foods are everywhere and they are popular for a reason: They are quick and easy to eat. But there is a catch: They may increase your type 2 diabetes risk.

What Are Processed Foods?

Processed foods are dried, frozen, or have certain chemicals or preservatives added to them. This can make them:

  • Longer-lasting in stores and in your home.
  • Easier to prepare and eat. Higher amounts of sugar, salt, and other preservatives are sometimes added to processed foods and these additives may increase your diabetes risk.

What Kinds Of Food Are Processed?

Some examples include:

  • Frozen dinners
  • Boxed pasta meals made with refined white flour instead of whole grains
  • Soda or other sugary drinks
  • Canned foods
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Processed meats such as hot dogs, sausage, bologna, ham, or packaged lunch meats
  • Packaged cakes and cookies
  • Packaged snack foods such as chips or crackers

What Does The Research Say?

Recent studies have found that women with higher acid levels in their blood were two thirds more at risk of type 2 diabetes than other women. High acid levels are linked to eating processed foods.

Other study findings include:

  • Women who ate more fruits and veggies were less likely to get type 2 diabetes, since they balanced the amount of acid in their blood.
  • Both overweight and normal weight women showed a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes when they ate foods that caused high acid levels.
  • High acid levels may prevent insulin from working properly. This may lead to high blood glucose and diabetes.

Are Any Processed Foods Healthy?

You can find healthy processed foods if you read food labels and choose processed foods that are:

  • Low in sodium, with 150 mg or less per serving.
  • Low in calories
  • Low in sugar
  • Low in saturated fats
  • Made with whole grains


Take Home Messages

  • Eat more fresh veggies and fruit in your meals and snacks.
  • Check processed food labels and choose those that are lower in calories, sodium, sugar, and saturated fats.
  • Add fresh veggies and whole grains to meals with processed foods.
  • Drink more water instead of soda and other fizzy drinks.


By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN
Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD

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