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Ultra-Processed Foods - A New Study

Last week, the British Medical Journal published a study regarding the consumption of ultra- processed foods and their effect on the body.  This was a 30-year correlation study that involved over nine million people.  The results are significant because most Americans get more than half of their daily calories from ultra-processed foods. 

The most common ultra-processed foods are highly refined breads, fast foods, sugary drinks, sugary cereals, prepared meals that contain food additives, dehydrated soups, reconstituted meats and fish products, packaged cookies, cakes, and other packaged snacks.  These foods are high in calories as well as sugar, fat, or salt; but are low in fiber and vitamins.    

The studies showed that there is an association between a high consumption of these foods and an increased risk of anxiety, depression, obesity, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers, such as colon cancer, and premature death. 

What can you do?

  • Consume more whole foods, i.e., fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

  • Read labels and avoid foods where you can’t pronounce some of the ingredients. Also avoid foods that contain ingredients you wouldn’t find in your kitchen, such as high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, hydrolyzed protein, artificial colors, flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents and thickeners. 

  • Of course, we all want something sweet occasionally, so rather than purchasing packaged cookies and cakes, do your own baking.  Although home baked goods may contain sugar, fat, and salt, they don’t contain the ingredients listed above, so they're a better choice, as long as you don't overdo it.  Moderation is key.    

One last comment - you don't have to be fanatical about this. Slowly add more whole foods to your diet and cut back on the highly processed foods. Take baby steps!




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