Ask any nutritionist and they'll tell you that our health is a reflection of the lifestyle we lead and what we put on our plates. The food we eat not only satisfies our hunger. It also fuels our bodies with energy to carry on. In today’s fast-paced life, there's limited time to make elaborate home-cooked meals. It's no wonder that 80 percent of Americans' total calorie consumption is thought to come from store-bought foods and beverages. Many of these food items are considered ultra-processed, causing a growing rate of concern for human health among scientists.
You may be wondering what exactly ultra-processed foods are. The concept of processing refers to changing food from its natural state, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Methods of accomplishing this include canning, smoking, pasteurizing and drying. Ultra-processed foods take processing one step further by adding multiple ingredients such as sugar, preservatives and artificial flavors and colors. Commercially prepared cookies, chips and sodas are just a few of many examples of foods that fall into the highly processed category.
This group is considered highly processed due to a large amount of added ingredients. Nova typically classifies this group as industrial formulations made entirely or mostly from substances such as oils, fats, sugar, starch and proteins as well as flavor enhancers and artificial colors that make these foods appear more attractive. Frozen items such as pre-prepared burgers or pizzas, candies, sodas, chips and ice cream are a few examples.
See Are Ultra-Processed Foods a Silent Killer?
Frozen meals and fast foods have become popular meal options around the world. But overconsumption of these highly processed foods can pose serious health risks.