July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Science And Technology

What are ultra-processed foods?

Ultra-processed foods are food products that are very processed before reaching supermarket shelves. These types of foods usually contain many chemicals such as preservatives, sweeteners, food coloring and emulsifiers. Generally, the more a product has been altered from its original form, the more likely it is to be ultra-processed.

Ultra-processed foods They are usually of low nutritional quality with high levels of sugar and salt. The benefit of ultra-processed foods is that they typically taste good and have a long shelf life, but if consumed in excess they can contribute to health problems.

It's hard to avoid ultra-processed foods completely and some are worse than others. For example, processed whole wheat bread has more nutritional value than a soft drink. The key is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds.

Examples of ultra-processed foods

Meals ready


fast food items

Processed meats: sausages, hot dogs

Some cereals for breakfast

French fries, cookies

Sugary drinks

Examples of unprocessed foods

Fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, meat, seeds and nuts that do not have added ingredients.

Examples of processed foods

These are foods that could be prepared at home, such as jams, homemade bread, cheese and canned fruits.

How do you know if a food is ultra-processed?

Check the ingredients

Ultra-processed foods typically have a long list of ingredients, including additives, preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and artificial sweeteners. These are usually foods that you couldn't prepare at home.

Look for highly refined ingredients like oils, flours, and sugars.

Look at the nutritional value.

Ultra-processed foods often have high levels of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.

Know more

Buy a selection of foods or search for ingredients online and create a table of processed and unprocessed foods. One idea is to choose one type of food, such as bread, and try to find five ultra-processed types and five less processed types.

Discover how Ultra-processed foods can affect the brain. with this BBC article.

Look The science behind foods that are not foods.

Last updated on March 7, 2024 by Emma Vanstone

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