Foods : T10 Harmful are Foods with a Lot of Processing Apply Now


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Foods : T10 Harmful are Foods with a Lot of Processing Apply Now

How harmful are foods with a lot of processing?

Ultra-processed foods are frequently presented as a contemporary health blight, a menace that lurks on supermarket shelves and is connected to obesity, heart disease, cancer, and premature deat


Researchers have warned of the risks associated with these products and have called for taxes or even bans on goods that account for a significant portion of the world’s food supply.

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Nonetheless, certain nutrition specialists have begun to refute such broad assertions, arguing that the definition may be ambiguous. They assert that further study is necessary and that ultra-processed foods, or UPFs, may offer some health benefits.

Carlos Monteiro, a nutrition and health researcher at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, first presented the idea in 2009.


His NOVA classification system for UPFs was unique in the field of nutrition since it disregarded the amount of nutrients found in food, including fat, salt, sugar, and carbs.

Rather, it divides food into four categories based on how much processing went into making them. All items in the fourth category are regarded as extremely processed.


According to Monteiro, UPFs “aren’t exactly foods.”


He explained to AFP that “they’re formulations of substances derived from foods.”

“To make them palatable, they are usually enhanced with colorants, flavorings, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives. They contain little to no whole foods.” Frozen pizza, ice cream, crisps, and soft drinks are a few examples.

However, items like store-bought bread, baby formula, and nondairy milks are also included that aren’t usually classified as junk food.

About 60% of the calories consumed in the UK and the US come from UPFs, according to the NOVA scale.



Numerous studies conducted in the last few years have revealed that eating a lot of UPFs increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma, depression, and other illnesses.

However, the majority of these studies have been observational, so it is impossible to conclude that UPFs are the direct cause of these health issues.

Monteiro cited a randomised-controlled trial conducted in the United States, which is regarded as the gold standard in research.

In the 2019 trial, 20 participants were given two weeks of ultra-processed or unprocessed food, followed by two weeks of the other diet.

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The diets were matched with respect to total calories, fat, and sugar.


A kilo (2.2 pounds) was gained on average by those consuming UPFs, whereas the same amount was lost by those following an unprocessed diet.


The trial participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, including snacks. According to the researchers, those following the UPF diet consumed significantly more food, and their weight gain was roughly proportionate to the increased calorie intake.

According to Monteiro, the study demonstrated how large corporations manipulate food to make it “hyperpalatable,” which “leads to overconsumption and even poses risks of addiction.”

However, Ciaran Forde of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, one of the study’s co-authors, dismissed the notion that there is anything special about UPFs that makes them alluring.


Forde, a NOVA critic who revealed he was employed by food giant Nestle for almost ten years, claimed that others were also “confused.”


Only four of the 231 foods that nearly 160 nutrition experts were asked to classify into the four NOVA categories agreed upon in a French study that was published last year.


A nutritious UPF diet?
Because of this potential for misunderstanding, US researchers consulted with NOVA specialists to create a healthy diet that included 91 percent UPFs in calories.

The US Healthy Eating Index gave their weeklong menu a score of 86/100, which is significantly higher than the average American diet of 59/100.

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The study’s lead nutritionist, Julie Hess of the US Department of Agriculture, told AFP that they looked for fruits and vegetables like dried blueberries or canned beans that were considered ultra-processed due to preservatives and other additives.

Although the scale currently places sodas and gummy candies in the same category as oranges and raisins, she acknowledged that there might be a valid point here.

Many people do not have the time or resources to prepare every meal with fresh ingredients, as Hess and Forde both noted.

“In the midst of a crisis in the cost of living, taxing processed foods will be regressive and will probably hurt the most vulnerable groups,” Forde stated.


Earlier this year, the UK’s Food Standards Agency’s chief scientific adviser, Robin May, issued a warning against a “knee-jerk reaction” that treats all UPFs equally, “when we clearly know that everything is not the same.”


Monteiro disregarded the NOVA scale’s detractors.

“Those who stand to gain financially from the sale of highly processed foods are naturally opposed to the NOVA classification and frequently cast doubt on its efficacy,” the speaker stated.

He applauded the recent prohibition of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) in Rio de Janeiro schools and demanded that they be treated like tobacco products.


What does this mean for people who just want to eat healthily, though? Hess believed that the majority of people are already aware of the health benefits of eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.


She went on to say that occasionally, “some delicious, full-fat cheeses” are acceptable.


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