According to the nutritionist, ultra-processed foods can be understood as those produced by the industry and use at least five additional ingredients in their formulations. Among the items added are sweeteners, dyes, emulsifiers, preservatives, and flavorings.
“Ultra-processed foods are practical and palatable, they generate a feeling of pleasure and well-being, and that’s all we want. These foods can make our body release hormones and, in this way, the person becomes more relaxed, like chocolate. While we were (or are) in the pandemic, the feeling of distress, fear and anxiety hovered inside our homes.
There is nothing better than delicious food that doesn’t take work. Well, ultra-processed products perfectly meet this type of need”, . Check below a list of ultra-processed foods, many of them processed foods that may be part of your meals, and you may not even know it:
- Cookies, ice cream and treats.
- Breakfast cereals.
- Cereal bars.
- Soups, pasta and “instant” seasonings.
- “Packet” snacks.
- Refreshments and soft drinks.
- Chocolate powder.
- Yogurts and sweetened dairy drinks.
- Energetic drinks.
- Meat-flavored broths,
- food or vegetables.
- Mayonnaise and other prepared sauces.
- Shaped bread.
It is still possible to mention frozen and ready-to-eat products (pasta, pizza, hamburgers, nuggets, sausages, etc.); and other options such as sweet bread and bakery products that have substances such as hydrogenated vegetable fat, sugar and other chemical additives.
What Are The Health Risks Of Ultra-Processed Foods?
Regular consumption of ultra-processed foods causes several health risks. This ranges from disorders in the gastrointestinal tract, increased risk of fractures, metabolic changes, and cardiovascular and respiratory problems to depression, cancer, dementia and other diseases.
These foods are nutritionally poor; they do not have a wide variety of nutrients. In addition, they usually have excess sugar and high energy content. By regularly consuming ultra-processed foods, people are ingesting a lot of calories, which contributes to the development of obesity and leads to different complications”, highlights nutritionist.
A study carried out by the University found that young people who eat ultra-processed foods are 45% more likely to be obese, as well as 63% more likely to develop visceral obesity (accumulation of fat between organs), which is related to the development of hypertension, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia and increased risk of mortality.
“An interesting fact is that some foods, as in the case of fast foods, can generate an addiction similar to that observed in people addicted to cocaine and heroin. This is because they usually contain at least four components that cause pleasure and are addictive, among them: caffeine, salt, sugar and fats”, emphasizes the professional. Still, according to the nutritionist, many ultra-processed foods are tasty, as they contain a substance called monosodium glutamate, which, together with the others, can cause damage to DNA. This invariably results in a series of diseases, such as the development of tumor cells.
Are All Ultra-Processed Foods Harmful To Health?
Many believe that ultra-processed foods can be part of their routine when they come across products that have on their labels “with added fiber”, “rich in vitamins”, or “less sodium”; however, it is essential to mediate consumption.
Simply reducing, excluding or adding ingredients remains the exact nature of ultra-processed foods. It is typical for reformulating these foods to appear as a possible solution to reduce their harmful effects on health, but this is different from what happens. Remember that by consuming this type of food, you will be avoiding eating other foods that are nutritionally rich”, emphasizes Comin.
How To Replace Ultra-Processed Foods?
It is tough to escape the temptation to consume cookies, snacks, soft drinks, chocolate and the like. After all, the options that crowd the supermarket aisles before our eyes are endless. “Organization is a keyword for maintaining a healthy eating routine without consuming ultra-processed foods. Before leaving home, prepare your lunch box with rice, beans, chicken and salad. That way, you won’t stop for a hot dog at lunchtime. Take fruit to work; this is a great way to avoid having to go to the supermarket and buy some cookies for mid-afternoon”, suggests the nutritionist.