Often referred to as prepared or pre-prepared foods, processed foods are suggested to contribute to the obesity epidemic and to the increased prevalence of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Highly processed foods are often high in sugar, fat and empty calories. The consumption of many of these foods has long been linked to an increased risk of suffering from a wide variety of health problems that can cause heart disease or premature death, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and depression. Reuters Health
(h) - People who eat a lot of ultra-processed foods are more likely to develop heart disease and die sooner than those who consume food in its original form, two large studies conclude.
Processed foods are prepared from category 1 or 2 food products by adding additional ingredients, such as salt, sugar and fat. In general, diets rich in processed foods usually mean that less real food is consumed, leaving the body lacking other vitamins and minerals needed to improve mood, emotional health and general well-being. The main objective of ultra-processing is to manufacture branded, highly cost-effective, practical and attractive foods that can replace almost all unprocessed or minimally processed foods in the daily diet. Industrial food processing has developed new technologies and ingredients to produce foods that are very tasty, cheap and practical.
The NOVA food processing classification system, developed by scientists from Brazil and promoted by the UN, classifies foods according to the scope and purpose of processing. Processed foods that contain high amounts of poor quality fats, added sugar and salt, a low amount of dietary fiber and a negligible amount of beneficial nutrients are particularly harmful to health, since higher consumption of these foods increases the risk of many diseases and increases the death rate from all causes. One study linked eating more than four servings a day of ultra-processed foods with a 62 percent higher risk of premature death compared to eating little or none of these foods. A simple way to identify any processed food is to take a look at the label; if there is a long list of ingredients with complicated and unrecognizable names, you can safely say that they are processed foods.
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