Ultra-processed foods are often thought as the nemesis of healthy eating. However, they are so ubiquitous in our food supply, it is so difficult to avoid them in the supermarket (they are displayed for our convenience and capture our cravings for sugar, salt, and fat as well.) The problem: If we tried to avoid all processed foods, there would be few choices in the supermarket. The best way for starters is to try to cut down on snack foods — they are highly processed and offer few nutrients.
According to a study carried out by researchers at the University of Sao Paolo, almost 60% of the calories Americans consume each day comes from ultra-processed food.
All foods are processed to some extent. The main problem in the Standard American Diet (SAD), is the high percentage of ultra-processed foods.
What is an ultra-processed food? It’s foods that contain additives like food coloring, synthetic coloring, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, chemicals that give food texture, as well as taboo additives like partially hydrogenated oils. Ultra-processed foods are also typically high in sodium, sugar, and calories. Just read the ingredient list on the food labels (if you have time) and you will soon realize many of these additives are currently in our food supply.