Processed & Ultra-Processed Foods

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MONTH 2 – Article

Processed & Ultra-Processed Foods

Last Reviewed: 18/10/2021

Time To Read: 3mins

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Are they healthy?

At The Food Cruncher we strongly promote a predominantly plant based diet, made up of whole foods.

So, what are processed and ultra-processed foods?

Processed foods are foods that are no longer in their natural state. They have added substances to them like salt, oil and sugar. Some examples of processed foods include canned fish, canned vegetables or fruit, yoghurt.  Generally speaking, processed foods have at least two or more ingredients in them.

Highly processed or ultra-processed foods would typically have sugar, fat, salt and artificial colours and preservatives added to them. They may also contain substances like hydrogenated fat and stabilizers.  Examples of ultra-processed foods include frozen meals, biscuits & cookies, store brought muffins and cakes, different types of snack foods.

What’s the problem with processed and ultra-processed foods?

The problem with these foods is that generally they are very high in calories, fat, salt and sugar and can easily lead to weight gain. In addition, if you read the (often) long list of ingredients on the food label, do you actually know what you are eating? You should be concerned if you can’t pronounce what is on the label or know what it is and what it might do to you. Ultra-processed foods generally contain ingredients that you would not add if you were cooking at home.  There has also been some recent research that demonstrated a relationship between ultra-processed foods and increased cancer risk. While the research is still new, it is worth thinking about what foods will benefit your health the most.

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Choose Minimally Processed Foods

Foods that are minimally or unprocessed are those that have their vitamins, minerals and nutrients still intact. Unprocessed foods include foods like apples, bananas, raw unsalted nuts, raw chicken.

Minimally processed foods are those that are only slightly altered to allow for safe storage (for example foods that are dried, boiled or frozen).

Minimally Processed or Unprocessed Foods

Processed Foods

Ultra-Processed Foods

Raw fruit & vegetables

Bran Cereal

Cereals with added ingredients including sugar and salt

Tap Water

Flavoured Water

Coke

Pure home squeezed orange juice

Store brought juice with added sugar

Energy drinks

Home Made Potato Chips

Chips with three or less ingredients

Regular potato chips

Eggs

Canned fish

Frozen meals

Raw Chicken

Cheese

Ice Cream

Raw nuts and seeds

Bread

Salty & Sugary snacks

Frozen fish

Bacon

Biscuits & Cakes

No added sugar yoghurt

Beer & Wine

Meat alternatives

Plain oats

Ham

Yoghurt with added ingredients

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Key Message

The bottom line is, try and choose foods that are in the natural state or at least minimally processed. They will provide the most nutrients and benefits to your health.

We hope you found this article useful.

Michelle @ The Food Cruncher.

The Science:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-are-ultra-processed-foods-and-are-they-bad-for-our-health-2020010918605

Filippa Juul, F, Steele, EM, Parekh, N et al. (2018) Ultra-processed food consumption and excess weight among US adults. Br J Nutr 120, 90–100.10.1017/S0007114518001046 CrossRef | Google Scholar

Fiolet, Thibault; Srour, Bernard; Sellem, Laury; Kesse-Guyot, Emmanuelle; Allès, Benjamin; Méjean, Caroline; Deschasaux, Mélanie; Fassier, Philippine; Latino-Martel, Paule; Beslay, Marie; Hercberg, Serge; Lavalette, Céline; Monteiro, Carlos A; Julia, Chantal; Touvier, Mathilde (2018). "Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: Results from Nutri Net-Santé prospective cohort"BMJ360: k322. doi:10.1136/bmj.k322PMC 5811844PMID 29444771.

The Food Cruncher provides general information and a forum for discussions about health, wellness, food and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this website, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this website or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice or other institution.

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