Ultra processed food is killing us slowly, but how? And what is ultra-processed food? I will answer all that, and I will also explain how food companies are selling us poison. Keep reading to know more.
Ultra-processed food is something that is not natural. It is chemically altered and unsafe. But first, we need to understand different categories in which food is classified. That will explain to us the major difference between different kind of foods.
Then we will get back to the ultra-processed food and deal with the devil itself.
Table of Contents
Different categories of food
For ease and for better understanding, NOVA categorized foods into 4 groups. These categories not only tell us more about the food we eat, but also helps in making an educated decision.
Category 1- Unprocessed food
This category contains Fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, meat, eggs, fish, milk (plain), curd (plain), paneer (cottage cheese), herbs, spices, fresh fruit juice (not packed), etc.
These foods are in their natural state and vitamins, minerals & other nutrients are still intact. These foods are free from chemicals and have expiry date. That means they can go stale easily and quickly.
Such foods are plain and may not be attractive looking as these are in natural state. However, these are very healthy
Category 2- Processed Culinary ingredients
This category contains cooking oil, seeds, nuts, etc. These are also called as minimally processed foods. These are used in cooking and go through processes like grinding, refining, pressing, etc.
Main aim of these process is to obtain oil or other products that are free from pollutants and are stable to use.
Category 3- Processed food
This category contains foods that are processed in order to increase taste and preserve quality. For example Cheese, milk (sweet), freshly made bread, canned fish, canned vegetables.
Dry/dried fruits are also processed at some level. They are cleaned, salted (not all) and some preservative are added to them.
Unlike previous 2 categories, this category contains salt, sugars and few more ingredients are added before they are ready to be consumed.
Category 4- Ultra processed foods
Ultra processed foods go through series of industrial process. This category contains less of whole food and more of artificially made foods.
These types of foods contain various chemicals, go through various process and are unnatural.
We are most interested in this category, however we should not be. But for this post, we will be focussing mainly on ultra processed foods and their harmful effects.
How Ultra processed food are made?
To be very honest, I don’t know. Even the food companies who make such food doesn’t know how they are making it.
Ultra processed foods are chemically engineered, this includes various industrial processes like extrusion, molding, blanching, chemical modification, chelating, carbonating, gelling, glazing, bleaching, leavening, etc.
Such food could include fructose, syrups, hydrogenated oils, emulsifiers, foaming agents (also used in shampoo, soaps), clarifying agents, humectants (also used in cosmetics), processed protein, dyes, tartrazine, cochineal (these 2 are colors), stabilizers, thickeners (also used in paints,inks), maltodextrin, flavor enhancers and god knows what else.
Cosmetic additives like fruit concentrate & waste obtained from food are added to such food. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners, colors, detergents are added to such food to make it look more colorful and spongy.
Typical example of ultra processed food may include chips, soda, chocolate, noodles, cold drinks, ready to eat meals and mixtures, biscuits, chocolate powders, packed food like cakes, ready to eat snacks, sauce, chutneys, pickle, packed fruit juices, protein bars, cereals, certain breads, ready-made soups, ice creams, and even candies.
The interesting thing about such foods is, these foods are made to taste like certain food, so that you can feel good about them. These are very light and are broken down and remade, so these are very easy to digest and are micronutrient deficient.
As ultra processed foods are easy to digest, our brain doesn’t immediately understand when we need to stop, and we keep eating. Ultra processed foods are “designed” in a manner that people cannot resist, and they always buy them.
But, there are few more reasons why ultra processed foods are liked so much.
What makes Ultra processed food a favorite
Ultra processed foods are very popular, I mean so popular that 60 % of total calories in the USA comes from such foods.
But what makes, these foods these popular?
I will list out some reasons:
Easy alternative of unprocessed food
Ultra processed foods or UPFs are considered an alternative of natural food. The major reason for that they are easy to eat and requires no efforts.
Like, you might have seen some ready to eat masala in the market, those are claimed to be time-saving. So, while you are thinking that you are saving your time, you are actually reducing your life span.
Also, such items don’t require any efforts, so anyone can buy and eat them. There are like 100 variety of snacks, so people always have huge variety to choose from. Which is not case of natural food.
UPFs are heavily marketed. You will see amazing ads with catchy taglines, which makes you buy such products. Companies promote these products, and they will talk about how “healthy”, satisfying and nourishing such products are.
Even at supermarket, you will see packets of chips, snacks and such ready to eat food near the billing counter, so you will tend to buy such things. Believe it or not, it’s easy to find UPFs than the actual food.
Celebrities and popular personalities also promote such products, so it gets easy for food companies to sell them.
Attractive shapes and colors could be another tactics of food companies. For example, if food companies are targeting children, then they will sell such items that children will get attracted towards it.
Well… Been there, done that.
Cheap & time saving
UPFs are very cheap. The amount of money you will spend on UPFs will be much lesser than the actual food, plus these foods requires no cooking skills, additional ingredients, electricity or cooking system, and most importantly time.
Food companies know that people don’t have time, so they produce such things which can be called as time effective.
Longer shelf life
Ultra processed foods have longer shelf life, that means they will taste the same even after 2 months. This food don’t go stale easily.
For example, packed biscuits will not expire for many months, but homemade cookies will not look or taste the same even after a few days.
Now the biggest question is, what does Ultra processed foods causes? And how to deal with it?
UPFs can cause a lot of things like cancer, obesity, heart diseases, etc. But, we will discuss that in a separate post.
Ultra processed food is artificially created product of food companies for the profit. As you can read in this post, these foods are made with countless unknown industrial methods. Furthermore, various chemicals are added and those are not mentioned directly on the label.
These foods are popular and consumers are sold poison at a cheap price.
In the next blog post by FGW we will discuss why Ultra processed foods are harmful to us, and we will also learn some ways by which we can save ourselves.
Until then, remember to Smile.
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