Food is a basic necessity for all organism on Earth. In fact, food is consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism, and it also provides energy, maintain life or stimulate growth. Nowadays, we classify food into two which are healthy food and junk food. Healthy food is any food believed to be “good for us’, and the ones that have nutritious values to our bodies especially if high in fiber, natural vitamins or fructose. Also, healthy food should be well-balanced and consists of all categories of food from the Food Pyramid in right proportion.
Healthy food may be natural food, organic food, whole food, home-cooked meal and even vegetarian supplements. We can obtain healthy food from health food stores, at organic section in supermarkets or from our kitchen. We also can plant vegetables and fruits at our yard to obtain our source of healthy food. Healthy food have a very short lifespan; it can get spoiled easily and have to consume within few days.
On the other hand, junk food is processed food that have negligible or no nutritional value and are often high in salt, sugar, and fat. They are also categorized as pre-prepared junk food or packaged junk food. Pre-prepared junk food are usually cooked before we consume them. They include pizzas, burgers, tacos, fried chicken and French fries. Unlike pre-prepared junk food, packaged junk food are food that are ready to be eaten.
Packaged junk food are processed by companies and packaged in tins, bottles and wrappers. They are treated with preservatives to give them a longer lifespan; it does not get spoiled easily and easier for consumers to keep them. Packaged junk food include salted snacks, carbonated drinks, cake, chocolate, gum, and candy. Junk food became so popular around the world as they are very convenient for us to consume in our daily life.
Junk food can be found anywhere near us such as at a small store and all supermarkets, they sell all types of junk food; the pre-prepared and packaged junk food. Now, we live in a world that have plenty, or even more than enough food for us to eat. Wander down any road and marvel at the options we can pick from. What actually influencing our choice in food we decide to buy and eat is how we compare and contrast between these two types of food. There are similarity and differences between healthy food and junk food which is for similarity, they both contain calories while for the differences, they affect our health in different ways and they have different range of price.
Healthy food and junk food have similarity where they both contain calories. Calories are the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree. This is the indicator used to measure the amount of energy in the food that we consume. In this case, we use calories to indicate the similarity between healthy food and junk food, which is the total calories in each type food of both of them. Far as we know, food is fuel to humans that they actually provide energy for us to accomplish our daily activities.
The calories in food that are burned in our body result in the energy that we used. Healthy food does not mean they are free from calories. In fact, healthy food such as steamed fish with vegetables and junk food such as McDonald’s burger are about equal in their calorie values. They both also contain class of food that we need as suggested in the Food Pyramid such as carbohydrates and protein.
For instance, even from different class of food in Food Pyramid, one avocado contains 300 calories which equals to one Burger King’s cheeseburger. This shows that there is no difference in calories consumed when it comes to some of healthy food and junk food. Generally speaking, there is actually quite a range of junk food which can be deemed as health food. As an example, natural plain popcorn that most people can eat without guilt is a junk food that almost health food. Even though some junk foods are almost healthy food, we still have to consume them in a proper portion.
All people said that we must eat less junk food, but actually we can eat both in a proper portion. Of course, we will be fine if we eat both in a proper portion, because as people often said, too much of anything is actually the main problem. Eating too much of both can make us overweight as too many calories can lead to weight gain regardless of the type of food we consume. Moderation in consuming our meal is typically the most important factor related to any choice of foods we decide to eat. Taking each type of food moderately is the key in controlling our calories taken daily. For this reason, we can consume both types of food as they both have calories, but we must take both of them in a proper portion to control the amount of calories we take daily.
The most obvious difference between junk food and healthy food is how they both affect our health in different ways. Both types of food literally give us different effect because the food we eat will give our bodies the information that our body need to function properly. If we do not get the right information or in other words, if we consume too much junk food and very little in healthy food, our metabolic processes suffer and our health declines. Logically, right information will bring us to healthier and prosperous life but wrong information will make our health worst.
As everyone knows, junk food is any food that is highly processed, high in calories and low in nutrients. This junk food usually high in added sugars such as the snacks which boost up our blood sugar level and cause a spike in insulin, which then leads to a quick drop in blood sugar. That leaves us feeling tired, cranky and hungry for more. This is the main factor of why sometimes some junk foods can be so addictive. Too much of salt and saturated or trans fats in junk food such as fried fries and hamburgers can lead to higher risk of obesity, depression, digestive issues, heart disease and stroke, cancer, and early death. Lacks of fiber, is also another property of junk food that eating too much of it could lead to constipation. We can prevent ourselves from having all these type of diseases by consuming more healthy foods. Killing two birds with one stone, healthy food also can benefit our physical, mental and social well-being in powerful ways.
Healthy food can help us at least to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic diseases as mentioned before and promote our overall health. Healthy with the right type of food as suggested by the food pyramid in a proper portion gives us energy we need to keep active throughout the day and the nutrients we need for growth and repair, helping us to stay strong and healthy and the most important role, to help to prevent diet-related illness. Obviously, dissimilar from junk food, healthy food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy can help to reduce our risk of heart disease by maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Last but not least, healthy food and junk food also differ in their price range. The last time you were at your favorite restaurant or fast food premises, you may have noticed that a salad was going to cost you a bit more than a hamburger and fries. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a coincidence as a study by Cambridge University shows that eating healthily costs three times as much a consuming junk food and the price gap is actually still widening. Processed foods, frozen foods and grains were much lower in price but also considerably less healthy.
In Malaysia, individuals who are wishing to uphold a healthy diet would be expecting to pay RM3 more per day. This will result in increased food costs of about RM1080 per person at the end of the calendar year. In the long run, adding RM 3 to your budget each day can benefit you because of all the health issues that will arise when you consistently eat unhealthy food. You will actually be saving more money by avoiding those health problems that needs a stash of money to pay for its medical treatment. But here comes the sad truth, when healthier food like vegetables and dairy products is pricier compared to unhealthy items like salty snacks and sugary sweets, people are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet.
As a normal citizen who also facing this same problem, I would really like to eat better but there are times where I can’t afford to. Going through this problem since I live independently, away from my family, I strongly believe that cooking from scratch and with takeaway meals priced as low as RM 3, we have little incentive to change our behaviour. We always think of healthy food as expensive, because of the price of all these “superfoods” such as meat, fish and dairy, and the higher cost of organic produce. Yet nutritious food need not cost the Earth. Chia-seed smoothies are an expensive luxury, but basic nourishment such as carrots, lentils, potatoes is actually cheap as chips. Don’t be fooled by these expensive “superfoods”. Simply increase the volume and variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet as it can actually help to reduce the risk of ill health and need not be costly.
Frozen, canned and dried fruits and vegetables are often cheaper than fresh but keep their nutrients. They also can be kept in a long time, meaning less food wastage. Avoid buying processed foods while actually you can make similar dishes quickly and easily for much less. Diet is fundamental for health and well-being, and the cost of food alone should not stop people from eating well. Junk food may be cheap and tempting, but the idea that healthy food is expensive is just fiction.
In conclusion, healthy food and junk food similarly contains calories but on the other hand, they differ in how they affect our health and how they have different range of price. Healthy food and junk food similarly contains calories as a plate of healthy food could have the same amount of calories with a meal of junk food. We could see this point as an excuse to consume more junk food as the calories are about the same but we must always take food moderately.
So, the main tips is actually to take any type of food but moderately. Although both healthy food and junk food contains calories, healthy food is actually always a better choice for us than junk food. In fact, we may felt like eating junk food are not affecting our health but actually they affect us in a long term after that. Eating junk food could lead to obesity, digestive issues, heart diseases, stroke and cancer. This is due to the high amount of sugar, salt and saturated or trans fats in the junk food that we consume and it is actually too much for our own body to handle.
Furthermore, Healthy food and junk food have different range of price where people nowadays have their own mindset that healthy food that contains “superfood” is so expensive and on the contrary they thought junk food is much cheaper. Having this as their mindset could never change their eating style and as they buy their groceries at the supermarket, they would always reach for junk food which is the canned, packed and processed food as they thought they could save more money on it. Then again, actually we, all people could be smarter everyday by using these tips to eat healthy food in a tight budget.
First, buying organic and “superfood” groceries rather than buying those canned foods as actually the canned foods actually contain a small amount of food in it, making people buying more than just one canned food. One of canned food may seem cheaper than buying organic or “superfood” but one is never enough. At last, we end up buying two to three canned food which now have the same price with those organics and “superfood”. Second, eating cooked food at home actually save much more money rather than having meals at a restaurant.
Eating home cooked meals actually save much more money and much healthier than eating at those restaurants as price for a meal at a restaurant nowaday usually reach almost RM20 per person. Third, changing our protein sources from meats to other sources in case that those meats are expensive, We can change our source of protein from meats to beans, eggs and tofus. After all, we all should try choosing healthy food in our daily meal and stopping our habits in consuming junk food.