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Future Health

Ultra-processed food and why they're bad

January 11, 2021 


What are processed and ultra-processed foods? Processing changes a food from its natural state. Processed foods are essentially made by adding salt, oil, sugar, or other substances. Some foods are highly processed or ultra-processed. They most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colors or preservatives. Ultra-processed foods are made mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats. They may also contain additives like artificial colors and flavors or stabilizers.

There are 3 steps of food processing:

  • First stage of “processing” involves making sure the food is edible. Harvesting grain, shelling nuts, and slaughtering chickens are all considered primary processing. Foods that have only gone through this stage of processing are often still considered “whole” foods.
  • Secondary steps make a more complex, finished, “processed” product. This includes cooking, freezing, and canning.
  • Ultra-processed foods go through a third stage, when manufacturers inject flavors, added sugars, fats, and chemical preservatives.

Here are a few reasons how ultra-processed foods affect your health:

  • Lots of sugar – foods tend to have 8x more added sugar than just processed foods.
  • Lots of salt – the human body needs a maximum of 5g of sodium per day, exceeding that puts you at higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
  • Fats and saturated fats – to much saturated fats is a known risk factor for high cholesterol and put you at higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Now what are some of these foods that we are talking about? Here is a short list of food to eat sparingly.


sweetened breakfast cereals                     


flavored potato chips                                     

white bread                                                       

fried chicken                                                     

flavored candy bar with long ingredient list                          


mashed potato flakes                                    

energy drink                                                      

flavored granola bars with added sugar and preservatives                            

artificially flavored cheese crackers                         


plain bran cereal

artificially flavored sparkling water

plain tortilla chips

whole-wheat bread with minimal ingredients

deli rotisserie chicken

simple candy bar with short ingredient list

store-bought cold brew

frozen potatoes

sweetened fruit juice

granola bars with minimal additives

naturally, flavored crackers

Home version

oatmeal with rolled oats and sweetened honey


DIY pita chips

homemade bread

roast chicken from scratch

dark chocolate squares

drip coffee

fresh-squeezed orange juicefresh, whole potatoes

DIY granola

whole-grain crackers and cheese slices

Even though these foods are not good for you doesn’t mean that you can’t have them. Eating a healthy balanced diet and exercise is the key to living a long and healthy life. If you are not sure if your diet is the one for you then reach out to your doctor or a dietician.