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Over Processing Problems


How food production effects health

What if we told you that there is one food in your diet that has been interfering with your weight and could put you at risk for heart disease, even cancer – and one more hint – it’s not a fruit or a vegetable.  A handful of recent studies are zeroing in on a culprit; ultra-processed foods (UPF) AKA foods that contain hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, emulsifiers and so on. 

One study published in Cell Metabolism, compared a highly processed with an unprocessed diet in 20 participants over 4 weeks.  Calories, sugars, fiber, fat and carbs were the same in both ultra and un processed meals and participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.  Researchers saw clear results.  Men and women ate faster while eating processed foods such as a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon when compared to oats, walnuts, banana and skim milk.  They also ate about 500 calories more per day and gained an average of 2 pounds on the ultra-processed diet while losing about 2 pounds when on the minimally processed diet.  More research is needed to understand what specifically causes the weight gain or loss.     

Another study assessed over 105,000 French adults via food questionnaires over several years.  Health was monitored and all foods were rated according to amount of processing.  Investigators saw that a 10% increase of processed foods was associated with an increase of >10% heart disease.  Risk decreased in those who ate more unprocessed foods.    

So which foods qualify as processed?  They’re typically low in vitamins, minerals and fiber, high in fat and sodium.  You can also tell by looking at the ingredients list.  If there are items that you can’t read or others that you recognize as preservatives, sweeteners, coloring or flavoring agents then you’re looking at an ultra-processed food. 

Identify the ultra-processed foods below: 

One surefire way to avoid the UPF is by cooking at home!  Bookmark our Dole recipes for easy access to seasonal and healthy recipes.  We think our Chickpea Salad Wraps with Carrot “Bacon” are top notch!

Published August 1, 2019

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