Are Ultra Processed Foods Ruining Your Health?

- Advertisement -

It’s common to hear the advice to “eat less processed food.” But what exactly is processed food? And what effect does processed food have on our health? Ultra-processed foods are industrial formulations that are ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat and are made primarily with refined ingredients. 

Although food processing is important for improving food security and safety, ultra-processed foods are typically high in added sugar, trans fat, sodium, and refined starch and low in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

UPFs are defined as formulations of ingredients derived from foods and additives, combined with substances such as colorings, flavorings, sweeteners, and emulsifiers. They have little to no intact food. Sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, ice cream, chocolates, savory snacks, burgers, processed meat, and frozen dishes are all included in this definition.

- Advertisement -

In comparison to other food groups, UPFs are typically long-lasting, ready-to-eat, low-cost, and highly palatable. They are usually delicately packaged and concentratedly marketed. They are typically fatty, sugary, or salty, high in energy, and low in protein, dietary fiber, micronutrients, and several bioactive compounds.

According to our most recent research, the rise of ultra-processed foods is likely playing a significant role in this ongoing change. Thus, reducing our consumption and production of these foods provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve both our health and the food system’s environmental sustainability.

Impact on Health

In recent years, there has been an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases in modern society. Existing evidence suggests that UPF displacement is causing an increase in the prevalence of obesity and other diet-related NCDs. Increasing the proportion of UPFs in the diet is associated with a higher incidence of negative health outcomes.

Other research has found that ultra-processed foods, due to their high energy value and appetitive properties, may lead to overeating and facilitate the development of obesity or type 2 diabetes.

- Advertisement -

As a result, it is necessary to think about how to alter the trend of increased consumption of ready-to-eat and convenient foods and return to well-established eating patterns based on minimally processed foods and freshly prepared meals.

The BMJ published a study that looked at representative dietary records of over 100,000 French adults over a five-year period. They discovered that those who ate more ultra-processed foods were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Even after the researchers adjusted for the nutritional quality of the diet, these findings remained statistically significant (considering factors such as the amount of saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and dietary fiber in the diets). Despite the fact that large observational studies cannot prove cause and effect, the research does suggest a link between ultra-processed diets and heart disease.

Impacts on The Food System

While research has shown that western diets high in calories and livestock products have a negative impact on the environment, there are also environmental concerns associated with ultra-processed foods.

Although the effects of these foods on human health are well documented, the effects on the environment have received less attention.

According to research in Brazil, increasingly globalized diets high in ultra-processed foods are harming the cultivation, manufacture, and consumption of “traditional” foods.

Learn to Spot ultra-processed Foods

They are high in cosmetic additives and low in whole foods. Some examples include confectionery, soft drinks, chips, pre-prepared meals, and restaurant fast-food products.

Minimally processed Processed Ultra-processed

Corn Canned corn Corn chips

Potato Baked potato French fries

Wheat Flour Cookies

Consider the examples in this table to help you quickly determine if a food is minimally processed, processed, or ultra-processed. [source Harvard Health]

What can be done?

The production of more nutritious foods like wholemeal bread or pasta could be re-routed. This would help to improve global food security by providing a stronger buffer against natural disasters and conflicts in major breadbasket areas.

Other environmental resources could be saved if certain ingredients were avoided entirely. Consumers’ preferences for healthier foods, for example, could significantly reduce the demand for palm oil (a common ingredient in ultra-processed foods that has been linked to deforestation in Southeast Asia).

Reduce your consumption of ultra-processed foods to reduce your environmental footprint while also improving your health.

Team FNH
Team FNH
Food & Hospitality Team works day and night to get you some of the best culinary experiences from across the state of Goa. If you wish to get featured into this portal, please share your details at [email protected]

Related Stories


Aiden Vagator by Best Western, Your Address for the...

Aiden Vagator Goa is amongst the first Aidens in India by the Best Western Chain of Hotels. Situated just 950 m away from Vagator Beach, bringing a touch of global hospitality to Goa, Aiden Vagator is a boutique hotel that combines luxury, comfort, thoughtfulness and service like no other. 

Experience The Kodava Trail with Chef Anjali Ganapathy at...

The Spice Studio situated at the Alila Diwa Goa has a beautiful dining experience called The Kodava Trail curated specially for you by Chef Anjali Ganapathy on the 12th and 13th of November.  

Rajeev Kumar Elevated To The Position of Area General...

Rajeev Kumar holding the position of the General Manager of Fern Kadamba Hotel & Spa for almost half a decade has been promoted to the position of area General Manager

Come, Experience The “Edge”, A Tropical Bar & Kitchen...

Escape into the enriching ‘Susegaad’ luxury as the recently upgraded Edge - Tropical Bar & Kitchen at the lifestyle Hyatt resort, Alila Diwa Goa, opens its doors to a new look, new vibe, and an all-new experience.

Planet Hollywood Announces Its Second Hotel in Asia

Planet Hollywood rolls out the red carpet once again with an exciting addition to the brand’s portfolio in Asia. Planet Hollywood, Thane City is the second hotel in Asia after Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Goa. 

Celebrate This Diwali in a Style With IHCL, Goa

This Diwali is very special since it's the first Diwali that we will be celebrating without Covid on the menu and hence it becomes very important as to how and where we celebrate it. IHCL Goa has a specially curated menu for you to celebrate this festival of light in a style. 

Popular Categories



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.