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How ultra-processed food took over your shopping basket

Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods like white bread, cereal, chips, and wafers are remarkably common, convenient, affordable, extremely profitable for the makers, come in strong flavors and are aggressively marketed.

These 'ultra-processed' foods are low on essential nutrients while being high in sugar, salt and oils. The base ingredients which are used to 'engineer' these foods (cheap vegetable oils, sugar, flour) are already refined.

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How ultra-processed food took over your shopping basket

How ultra-processed food took over your shopping basket

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/feb/13/how-ultra-processed-food-took-over-your-shopping-basket-brazil-carlos-monteiro

theguardian.com

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Key Ideas

Our Everyday Foods

We consume ultra-processed foods every day without even realizing it.

  • The morning cereal and flavored yogurt.
  • The savory snacks and sweet baked goods.
  • The vegan hotdog and the chicken nuggets available on the street.
  • The doughnut or the premium protein bar we buy as a snack.
  • The carton-packed almond milk put in our coffee or the diet coke we have.
Apart from obesity, ultra-processed foods are responsible for depression, asthma, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and even cancer.

More Light On Ultra-Processed Foods

Most cooked foods can be termed as 'processed foods', but ultra-processed foods are in a different domain, with few people having the clarity to differentiate.

A cooked carrot is processed food, but a bag of industrially-produced, carrot-flavored veggie puffs are ultra-processed and are still aimed at toddlers as a portion of natural food. Other examples include frozen peas or pasteurized milk.

The Nova System

Dr. Carlos Monteiro published a list of four different categories of food, according to how it is processed. This list, known as the Nova System, became a well-known guideline towards eating healthier:

  • Unprocessed or minimally processed foods, like fruits and vegetables, a steak, and dry fruit,
  • Processed culinary ingredients like butter, salt, sugar, oil, and flour.
  • Processed foods like canned tomato juice, pickles, smoked fish, and traditionally-made bread.
  • Ultra-processed foods like cereal bars, turkey hot dog, sausage rolls, Oreo cookies.

Ultra-Processed Food Consumption

An extensive study in 2018 proved that an ultra-processed diet was responsible for substantial weight gain among participants, as well as 'hunger hormones' remaining activated even after eating.

As developing countries rely on cheap, tasty food to sustain themselves, ultra-processed food consumption is inevitable. However, this practice has to be regulated or reduced because the problem of nutrition cannot be cured by sophisticated processing.

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Fiber doesn’t just help us poop better — it also nourishes our gut microbiome.

Processed foods and fiber

Instead of munching on fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, more than half of the calories Americans consume come from ultra-processed foods. On any given day, nearly 40 percent of Americans eat fast food. These prepared and processed meals tend to be low in fiber, or even fiber free. 

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Processed food has aided the evolution of Homo Sapiens: As food became easy to eat and digest, our jaws and teeth became less powerful and smaller.

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Processed food has changed our DNA and the way we look. 

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'Clean eating' is the most widely followed diet
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Clean eating mindset

Clean eating is about choosing whole foods and ingredients, products that are minimally processed, and as additive-free as possible. It is not a punishing mindset, but a prioritising one:

  • Whole foods and ingredients first.
  • Minimally processed foods made with whole and familiar ingredients.
  • Where possible, avoid synthetic chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives, as well as artificial sweeteners, flavours, and colours.

The practice also promotes home-cooking and developing a culture of food that leads to meals that taste great and are better for you.

What clean eating is not
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