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Who doesn't drool for a bowl of crispy, golden French fries?
Imagine a diet without those lip-smacking pastries, pizzas, and burgers. Life appears pretty bland, right?
Now, what exactly is junk food, and how is it different from fast food? For health fanatics, junk food is the worst nightmare, while eating some junk food at a fast food center is comparable to paradise for many food lovers.
Keep reading to discover more about foods that qualify as junk food, their ingredients, and the pros and cons of indulging in them.
Almost every restaurant or grocery store serves a wide range of junk foods in the modern world. The concept of junk food isn't new; these foods have been around since the times of our great ancestors. So, let's browse through some of the significant events from the historical pages.
The origin of the word 'junk food' can be traced back to the '50s, but the American scientist Michael F. Jacobson coined the phrase in 1972.
However, the existence of snack food, candy, sweet desserts, candy, and gum predates their coinage.
In the 'Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food' by Andrew F. Smith, junk food refers to commercial food products like candy, ice-cream, bakery goods, soft drinks, and salty snacks that add up a lot of calories to the body but with little nutritional value.
In the '20s, junk food formed a major section of the diet in most American households, and post World War Two, these foods became extremely commonplace with the aid of television advertisements.
In the 20th century, junk food became popular thanks to the emergence and utilization of mechanization and electricity.
Processed foods were prepared after food-processing devices came into being.
As a result, manufacturers came up with processed food that required fewer ingredients and was time-saving.
Although these preparation techniques catered for large-scale consumers, they compromised on the healthiness of processed food.
One of the most famous junk foods to be invented was the 'Cracker Jack.'
The two brothers and vendors Louis and Frederick Rueckheim have been credited for this sweet invention.
Cracker Jack was prepared by combining peanuts, molasses, and popcorn.
Cracker Jack was commercialized in 1896, owing to its growing popularity.
Crack Jack first initiated the idea of targeting children by using toys.
Junk food became more famous with the 1976 chartbuster song called 'Junk Food Junkie' by Larry Groce.
An accident back in 1905 led to the invention of popsicles.
It was on a bone-chilling wintry night when the 11-year-old Frank W. Epperson unwittingly left his cup filled with powdered soda water drink to freeze overnight.
The following day, he was greeted with a delicious frozen concoction that was holding onto the stick.
He shared this new invention with his school friends. Still, it was only after 18 years that he patented his discovery and originally tagged these frozen delights as 'Epsicles.' His children renamed them 'Pop's' sicles.'
In 1896 came the famous Tootsie Rolls.
Tootsie Roll was named after Clara, the daughter of Leo Hirshfield, who was the inventor.
Clara's pet name was Tootsie.
Tootsie was renowned for surviving all kinds of weather conditions, so it formed a major part of soldiers' ration during World War Two.
The popular snack cake called Twinkie became a best-seller after its invention in 1930.
Twinkie even featured in movies like 'Grease' (1978) and 'Ghostbusters' (1984).
You would be actually bowled over to know that over 66 million of these individually packaged sweet treats are produced every day, which is equivalent to around 740 pieces each second!
Hirshfield is also behind the creation of the first gelatin dessert that became extremely lucrative.
Surprisingly, in 1897, cotton candy, commonly known as the 'fairy floss,' was created by William Morrison, an American dentist.
He partnered with John C. Wharton, a confectioner, and presented this sweet delight to the world in 1904.
The invention proved to be an immense success as 68,655 boxes of cotton candy were sold at the World's Fair.
In 1921, the world's first fast-food restaurant was established in the United States. Located in Kansas, the restaurant was given the unique shape of White Castle.
From its day of commencement, the food outlet has been serving lip-smacking hamburgers.
Some of the oldest fast food companies include KFC (1930), McDonald's (1940), Dairy Queen (1940), Dunkin' Donuts (1948), and Jack in the Box (1951).
A historical giant cheeseburger was created in 2017.
With a total weight of 1794 lbs (813 kg), the burger has been recorded as the world's largest.
It was a cheeseburger from the Mallie's Sports Grill & Bar restaurant located in Detroit. It costs $9000 to eat this burger.
Junk food mainly incorporates foods low in essential nutrients and filled with undesirable elements like fats, sodium, and sugar.
Fast food refers to those food items that restaurants can make available in an instant.
To a great extent, both are mutually inclusive because most fast-food restaurants like McDonald's, KFC, Domino's Pizza, and Starbucks serve junk food while catering to the customers instantaneously.
Do you know that 41% of children and 35% of adults in Australia depend on junk food for their daily energy requirements?
An occasional feast on junk food doesn't cause much damage to the body, but unchecked indulgence can lead to severe health problems such as obesity and higher levels of blood pressure.
Any food must be consumed in moderation because overindulgence can yield damaging results. Let's take a look into the impact of junk food on overall health!
Fast foods and junk foods can form a part of the diet only when people eat them with some self-restraint and maintain a proper check.
However, people who eat fast food regularly show signs of innumerable health problems, and this list is quite endless.
So, everyone should be conscious of what they're are feeding their family and putting in their stomachs.
Do you have an idea about how much candy average Americans eat? Annual consumption of 22 lbs (10 kg) has been estimated.
Junk food shows a similar impact on brain functions as addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine.
The high amounts of sugar and carbs present in sugary treats like cotton candy, sweet desserts, gums, candy bars, carbonated beverages, and other candies are major contributors to dental problems, including cavities and tooth decay.
Besides sugar, most fast foods contain trans fat, which is responsible for increasing LDL cholesterol levels. These foods also cause insulin resistance and high blood sugar.
According to a survey conducted by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, it has been found that, on average, the daily calorie intake of Americans mostly comes from solid fats, sodium, sugars, saturated fat, and refined grains.
People who eat junk food regularly are more likely to suffer from migraine and headaches.
Junk food loaded with fats stimulates cravings for more food which is most probably caused due to chemical imbalances in the brain.
This is perhaps one of the reasons why junk food has a low satiation value where people don't feel quite full after a meal and often end up overeating, leading to obesity.
What do you prefer the most to beat the scorching heat in summers? It's ice cream!
However, this mouthwatering treat that offers an amazing cooling experience to the senses actually ends up heating up the entire body due to its high amounts of fat.
Studies reveal that young women with the tendencies to eat junk food show higher chances of developing health issues like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Expecting mothers who indulge in excesses of junk food during their pregnancy shoot up the probability of unhealthy food habits in their children.
Preservatives and additives like sodium benzoate and food dyes found in junk food can increase hyperactivity and distractions among children.
Onion rings, french fries, and fried chicken are some of the most harmful fast foods. Daily consumption of these foods has an equivalent impact as hepatitis on a human liver.
Health experts believe that junk food plays a crucial role in the soaring number of diabetics and heart patients.
It is also considered one of the primary reasons for obesity among children.
Most children develop a taste for junk food from advertisements.
It has been observed that people who eat snack food too much tend to cut down on nutritious food like fruits and vegetables.
For instance, people addicted to soda and soft drinks reduce their consumption of healthy drinks like fruit juices and green tea.
This lack of essential nutrients required in a balanced diet consequently makes the body susceptible to several ailments.
Some other health issues that arise due to overindulgence in junk food are bloating, acne problems, outbreaks on the skin, and sometimes depression.
According to findings, high sodium intake had resulted in 3 million deaths, while 11 million deaths were recorded due to poor dietary factors.
So, it is very important to plan out every meal before snaking on those favorite cheesy hamburgers or sugar-filled candy bars.
Generally, junk food can be categorized as fast food or snack food.
The calories contained in both fast and snack foods cannot be overlooked.
However, it's needless to say that the regular intake of calories must be balanced out.
Do you know how many calories are present in the various junk food items?
Are you aware that a Margherita pizza contains more than 0.9 oz (25 g) of fat? It accounts for 39% of fat. Only one slice is enough to add 204 calories!
The calorie content in hamburgers ranges from 470-770, while the fat content oscillates from 0.7-1.7 oz (21-48 g).
Chicken strips have around 360-660 calories and approximately 0.7-1.4 oz (21-40 g) fat.
Wendy's 10 Piece Chicken Nuggets comes with 450 calories and 1 oz (29 g) fat.
Burritos mostly come with high-calorie content.
The calories range from 390-950 with 0.4-1.3 oz (12-37 g) fat.
On the other hand, bagels have comparatively lesser calories ranging from 270-350 with a fat content of around 0.04-0.2 oz (1-5 g).
Are you crazy about muffins? The blueberry muffins at Starbucks offer 470 calories, 0.8 oz (24 g) fat, and sugar.
Junk foods like onion rings, chocolate candy, pork chop, soft pretzels, corn chips, cream soda, and salad dressing must be avoided because these foods have a steep calorie content.
Did you know that only 3.5 oz (100 g) of onion rings add 356 calories to the body?
People who eat these calorie-enriched foods daily project high chances of developing serious diseases in the future.
Various ingredients offer the desired taste to a dish, be it a healthy kale salad or a fat-loaded Margherita pizza. Without further delays, enlighten yourself with these lesser-known facts about the ingredients used to prepare some of the popular junk foods that are always in vogue!
The ingredients are the game changers, but what is their role in junk food? The health quotient of any food is determined by its ingredients.
Squid and eel are highly demanded pizza toppings in Japan.
More than 300 million lbs (1361 million kg) of cheese is used solely by Pizza Hut every year.
Corn dextrin is a common ingredient found in junk food.
This is primarily used as a thickener in foods, but it also functions as a glue that can be spotted on postage stamps and envelopes.
Did you know that chicken meat is not actually the chief ingredient used to make those yummy chicken nuggets?
In fact, the primary ingredients are composed of the bone, epithelium, nerve, connective tissue, nerve, and fat!
On the other hand, the main ingredient used to make Jello jiggle is gelatin that is extracted from collagen, often gathered from the skin of animals.
Another ingredient named castoreum is widely used in baking goods and candies as a flavoring agent.
This particular ingredient is nothing but the secretions derived from the beavers' anal glands.
A similar ingredient is used in jelly beans that give it the shiny coat. It's shellac, procured from the fluids discharged by a female insect called Kerria lacca found in Thailand. Are you grossed out already?
Carmine is another ingredient that is derived from boiling cochineal bugs.
Carmine is widely used in ice creams and Skittles as a food coloring.
Some of the most toxic ingredients that can cause severe damage to health include potassium bromate, propyl gallate, tertiary butylhydroquinone, propylene glycol, calcium sulfate, butylated hydroxytoluene, phthalates, and phosphate additives.
These ingredients are associated with hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular issues, poor bones and immune systems, and various other issues.
Q: What is a fact about junk food?
A: One of the most surprising facts is that French fries have nothing to do with France. This all-time favorite snack originated in Belgium. The term 'French' is just a reference to the cutting style of the potatoes before being cooked.
Q: Why is junk food called junk food?
A: If you're wondering why junk food is named so, it's not because it is created from trash or garbage. Although the term 'junk' stands for useless, discarded things, junk food actually refers to products with exceptionally low nutritional value. It is named so because of the harmful effects associated with the high calories and other harmful components like fat and sugar.
Q: Who invented junk food?
A: No one in particular invented junk food. Different food items that qualify as junk food have been around for a long time.
Q: What is in fast food that makes it unhealthy?
A: Any fast food generally comes with a higher dose of sugar, salt, trans fat, saturated fat, calories, as well as preservatives. When consumed regularly, these components can potentially produce negative impacts on health.
Q: Is all fast food bad for you?
A: Firstly, all kinds of fast food do not qualify as junk food. Similarly, all fast food is not harmful to health if consumed within limits. For instance, a grilled chicken sandwich cannot be called unhealthy.
Q: Is pizza junk food?
A: Pizza is actually one of the most popular foods in the fast-food industry, but it also qualifies as junk food mainly because of the high levels of fat, sodium, and carbohydrate content. However, a pizza also contains certain essential nutrients like protein, calcium, and fiber.
Q: What does junk food contain?
A: Junk food contains high amounts of calories. It also comes with a comparatively greater fat and sugar content, due to which regular consumption of these foods is considered harmful for the body.
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