What are Ultra-Processed Foods?

In today’s world, there is an abundance of overly processed foods—packaged foods and products that have an overwhelming list of confusing ingredients. A lot of times, you don’t even know what half of the ingredients are (much less how they’re pronounced). These types of foods are considered “ultra-processed,” which according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations, are “formulations of ingredients, mostly of exclusive industrial use, typically created by series of industrial techniques and processes.”

According to Kristin Louis, a registered dietitian nutritionist at LWell, the way to identify these types of foods is if the ingredient list contains “substances rarely or never used in kitchens, or classes of additives whose function is to make the final product palatable or more appealing.” (Think: chemicals, flavorings, food dyes, etc.)

Ultra-processed foods can also contain an excess of salt, sugar, fat, and preservatives, which can contribute to obesity and various diseases. Therefore, it’s important to consume all processed foods in moderation and to focus your diet on mostly whole unprocessed foods like meat, vegetables, nuts and fruits. It’s nearly impossible for most people to avoid all processed foods entirely, so look for packaged items with the shortest ingredient lists.

Let LWell’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists create a custom meal plan for you based on whole, unprocessed foods. Medical Nutrition Therapy is usually covered by insurance and is a proven and effective treatment for a multitude of diseases including but not limited to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, depression and more.

This article was adapted from the LWell Program of Excellence “Ultra-Processed Foods” recorded live on 9/21/21.

ultra-processed foods

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