What is ultra-processed food?

fast food
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Ultra-processed food can become the go-to diet for people on the run, as they sacrifice nutrition for convenience.

A recent study found that a diet high in ultra-processed raises the risk of colorectal cancer in men. And in another study, researchers determined that with the lowest-quality who eat the highest amount of ultra-processed food have an increased risk for and death.

But what is ultra-processed food?

Take a walk down any grocery aisle, and you'll likely see plenty of ultra-processed foods.

"We might think of it as a novelty-type food—something that doesn't resemble how a food might look in nature," says Kate Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist.

Think of food as three simple categories. Unprocessed, whole foods are things like fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, meat, and eggs. Processed food covers a wide gamut and includes cheeses, canned vegetables with added salt, canned fruit with added sugar and meat preserved with salt. And ultra-processed foods can have added colors, sugars, salts and preservatives that add no .

"These foods probably don't represent whole types of foods," says Zeratsky. "They probably have a different appearance, and an example might be a cheese curl."

Others? Snack cakes, chicken nuggets, soda, chips, frozen dinners, the list goes on. Convenient and palatable? Yes. Nutritious? Not so much.

"So in our busy lifestyle, instead of turning to ultra-processed foods, think of more wholesome canned or frozen foods," says Zeratsky.

2022 Mayo Clinic News Network.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation: What is ultra-processed food? (2022, September 13) retrieved 3 March 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-09-ultra-processed-food.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Eating more ultra-processed foods associated with increased risk of dementia


Feedback to editors