Which ultra-processed foods are good for you
More than 50 percent of intake in the UK comes from ultra-processed foods, according to a study reported in the British Medical Journal. These foods include industrially produced cereals, sauces, baked goods and ready-meals. They can be packed with hidden sugars , salt. Eating them regularly is associated with obesity and even .
What are ultra-processed foods?
“Most foods are processed in some way, for example to enable preservation”, says Huntriss, “but the term ‘ultra-processed’ refers to foods that often have a long ingredients list, with you wouldn’t be familiar with. Food-based ingredients are often combined with sweeteners, colourings, stabilisers and preservatives and go through multiple processes to formulate the end-products. Examples include ice cream, fizzy drinks, hot dogs and some oven chips.”
Foods like these, along with crisps, biscuits and cakes, aren’t what anyone would class, but other ultra-processed foods can be harder to judge. You might wonder if a jar of pesto, a tin of soup, or a veggie lasagne ready-meal, for instance,. Let’s take a look.
Ultra-processed foods with benefits
As with other types of food, everything in moderation is key. “Inclusion of some of these foods as part of an otherwise balanced is acceptable. We live in a fast-paced world, and as much as an entirely whole-food, unprocessed would be great, it simply is not realistic for the majority of people”, says Huntriss.
She identifies some ultra-processed foods that may be beneficial:
Wholegrain breakfast cereals with no added sugar “are fortified with minerals that helping you reach your recommended daily, and are a source , which can contribute to cardiovascular, normal bowel function, gut and regulation of blood glucose levels.”
Tinned baked beans – “Made with white beans such as haricot or cannellini beans, these are high in vegetable, and low, and count towards your five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. They also contain minerals. They contain some added salt, but versions with no added sugar are available.”
Pre-packaged wholegrain sliced bread – “Wholegrains are packed. A rich in wholegrains has been shown to reduce the many conditions, and helps us reach our target .”
Unsweetened soy or plant-based drinks can be ultra-processed. “If choosing versions fortified these drinks may provide a similar amount to cow’s milk, promoting bone. Fortified plant-based drinks.
Is everything else ‘junk’ food?
So, apart from those four foods, is everything else off the cards entirely? Not exactly.
“Eating ultra-processed foods on occasion is not likely to cause”, says Huntriss. “Cakes, biscuits and crisps are foods that many people enjoy as part.”
Making ultra-processed foods an occasional stop-gap rather than an everyday part is an easy rule of thumb. “Although high, high-sugar foods should not be consumed frequently, they can still be included, albeit less frequently.”
That said, Huntress would like to see “less intensive marketing in supermarkets, high-sugar and high-salt foods”, with more whole foods center stage. “The marketing, convenience and low cost of these foods allows them to often take the place of more options and home cooking, leading to detrimental effects.”
To keep you, Huntriss advises a based on:
- fruit and vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- more unsaturated (from plant sources and oily fish) than saturated (mainly animal sources)
- dairy or a dairy alternative
- limited salt intake