According to a recent study commissioned by Heart & Stroke, Canadians consume nearly 50% of their daily calories in ultra-processed food.
This means that almost half of what we eat each day is significantly altered from its original form due to the addition of salt, sugars, fats, additives, preservatives, and artificial colors.
The food we eat can have a significant impact on our overall health. Ultra-processed foods such as candy, soda, pizza, and chips don’t contain the necessary nutrients. The nutritional value of our diet is affected by the amount of ultra-processed food we consume.
Here’s some good news. Not all foods in boxes are ultra-processed. Confused? Was I, too? This list helped me a lot. This is a classification system developed by an international group of food scientists and researchers. It divides foods into four different categories:
- Unprocessed and minimally processed food: Vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, meats, seafood, herbs, spices, garlic, eggs, and milk. These real whole foods should be the foundation of your diet.
- Processed food: Foods that have been packaged with ingredients like oil, salt, or sugar are processed foods. Simple bread, tofu, and canned tuna are examples. These foods are altered but not in any way that is harmful to your health. These foods are convenient, and they help you create nutritious meals. See? See?
- Ultra-processed Foods: This is the category that accounts for almost half of our daily calories. We should reduce this. These foods are subjected to multiple processing steps (extrusions, moldings, millings, etc.). These foods are highly processed, contain a lot of added ingredients, and have been heavily manipulated. Soft drinks, chips, chocolates, ice cream, candy, breakfast cereals sweetened, packaged soups with chicken nuggets or hotdogs, as well as other foods, are examples.
How can I reduce the amount of ultra-processed food in my diet?
Cook often One of the biggest changes in diet patterns over the past 70 years is the decrease in home-cooked meals and the rise in ultra-processed food. Balance the scales! Make more meals at home, and avoid ultra-processed foods (heating frozen fried poultry doesn’t qualify).
Enjoy a meal with family and friends. Real food, real conversation, good company. This is a great combination for dinner. Studies show that those who eat together tend to eat healthier, with more vegetables and less deep-fried food.
People who dine with others have better eating habits, according to studies.
Make better choices when dining out: Restaurant food doesn’t have to be overly processed. It can be healthy and fresh. You can challenge yourself to fill up half of your plate with vegetables wherever you dine. Choose items that are baked or poached rather than deep fried.
Think about the source. Consider where your food is sourced. A steak is made from cows, and apples are grown on trees. If you can’t tell where an item came from because it was so heavily manipulated, ask yourself if the food is nourishing to your body. It’s unlikely.
Beware of misleading food advertising and marketing. Ultra-processed foods may be marketed as being “organic,” “natural,” or “healthy.” While the words used to describe the ingredients of the food, they do not refer to how it was produced. Buyer beware! Even if a cookie is organic and natural, it’s still highly processed.
Fresh, unprocessed food is good for you. It can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes type 2, and heart disease. Real food can be turned into tasty meal ideas by shopping and cooking it. Try these recipes: Cumin-crusted beef or Stir-fried broccoli, red bell peppers, and beef. Both are ready in less than 30 minutes.