According to NPR, ultra-processed foods are food products that are made from ingredients derived from food itself. These are processed, then recombined to make a shelf-stable, tasty and convenient food.
These include things like cereals, packaged breads, cookies, sodas, jarred sauces and frozen meals, even ice cream.
NPR reports that ultra-processed foods currently account for 60% of the typical adult’s intake and 70% of such foods are consumed by children.
Based on the evidence, it can be said that consuming high amounts of ultra processed foods continuously leads to poor health consequences.
Such as obesity, increased risk of breast and colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and premature death.
NPR also offers some tips to help you avoid or reduce your intake of over processed foods.
Such as reading ingredient lists carefully, choosing less processed options, cooking more at home, planning ahead and involving children in meal preparation.
What are some examples of less processed alternatives?
Some examples of less processed alternatives to ultra-processed foods are:
- Bread: Seeded Whole Grain Breakfast Bread.
- Salty Snacks: Seasoned Baked Tortilla Strips.
- Cookies: Oat Flour Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies.
- Soda: Sparkling Pomegranate Tea.
- Frozen Meals: Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats.
- Pizza: Homemade Pizza.
- Salad Dressing: Homemade Italian Dressing.
- Breakfast Cereals: Vanilla Almond Granola.
Some other tips to avoid or reduce ultra processed foods are:
- Buy local: When you buy from the local market i.e. farmers, the food is fresher and fewer people are involved in handling the food, making it less processed.
- Shop around the perimeter of the store: Many foods found in the center aisles have preservatives added to help them stay “fresh.”
- Make your own sauce and store the extra curd in the fridge.
- Use plain yogurt instead of unhealthy tasty yogurt and add fresh fruits too।
- Oatmeal made with fruits and nuts is a great alternative to sweetened breakfast cereals.
- Avoid using commercially available baked beans, canned soups, meat substitutes, soy and dairy milk substitutes.