We all hear the term “processed foods” referring to food items that aren’t fresh and have loads of added sugars and trans fat — basically everything we should avoid in our diets. Well, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are now using the new term “ultra-processed” to refer to a group of foods based on recent research and it’s something we should all learn a little bit about.
The study, published in BMJ, revealed that this category of ultra-processed foods is really a gray area of foods under the umbrella of processed foods, but taken one step further. Self said that, “They aren’t ‘unprocessed or minimally processed foods’ (e.g. fresh veggies, rice, meat and eggs). They aren’t ‘processed culinary ingredients’ (such as salt, butter or sugar). Nor are they ‘processed foods,’ which includes foods like canned vegetables with added salt, canned fruits with added sugar, cheeses and meats preserved only by the addition of salt.”
According to the study, “ultra-processed foods tend to be mass produced packaged goods such as sodas, packaged sweet and savory snacks, instant noodles, chicken nuggets and frozen meals.” Why are these foods more harmful? Because these are foods that have a lot of added sugar, salt and fat and are often made from processed substances.
Overall, the study points out that while all processed foods should be consumed in moderation, they aren’t all equally bad and should be viewed on a spectrum.