Nutrition degrades as foods are processed

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You always here that processed foods do not have as many nutrients as natural raw foods but how much is really lost?  I decided to go with the “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” idiom and see how much of the benefits are lost by skipping the fresh apple and going with skinless, canned, applesauce, dried, or juiced versions of the fruit to see the effect of each of these levels of processing.

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It seems pretty clear by looking at the nutrient density which takes all nutrients contained in the food and ranks them and gives score of 0-100% the sum of these percentages is the nutrient density score.  When you look at a regular old apple it has a score 18.24.  If you remove the skin this number decreases by 8% and by the time it ends up as juice this number decreases by 54%.  So overall that glass of apple juice has less than half the nutrient density of the natural package and much of those nutrient are added after processing.

Even with the simple processing of becoming applesauce much of the essential nutrients are lost with over 40% loss of magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and Vitamin A.

One other interesting metric is how the sugar content increases by 16% when you consume the same number of calories of an apple to a glass of apple juice.  This is most likely due to the sugar added to juice and decrease of fiber from 4.6 grams to just 0.2 grams in juice or just 5% compared to the same 100 calorie serving of an apple in nature’s packaging.

I was expecting the nutrients in the processed food to be less compared to the raw form but I really didn’t think they would even be this significant.  Given you would have to eat at least twice as many calories to get the same nutrients from the processed foods the best option for weight loss and good health is to go with with the most raw and natural option.

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