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what they are and why they are harmful



I processed or processed foods they should be drastically limited within a healthy and balanced diet aimed at psychophysical well-being. It has been amply demonstrated by clear research in the medical and health field that the consumption of foods or ingredients that have undergone partial or major transformations of the raw material is harmful to health and leads to a substantial increase in diseases affecting the cardiovascular system, neurological and oncological.

Foods are divided into groups according to NOVA classification, which distinguishes them into categories depending on the extent to which they are processed for human consumption. In this classification, nutrients are not considered, but only the preparation processes aimed at consumption.

Processed foods: what does it mean?

The classification divides foods into 4 groups, in which the foods are grouped based on the type of treatment they are subjected to. To determine the group, the method considered: the processes used to preserve, extract, modify the raw materials to obtain the “final” foods available to the consumer.

Natural or minimally processed foods

The first group is the one to which the foods that undergo harvesting belong minimal transformation processes, which:

  • elimination of the inedible part,
  • refrigeration,
  • freezing,
  • splitting up,
  • pasteurization,
  • boiling
  • vacuum packaging.

Furthermore, when no other ingredients are added, we are talking about minimally processed foods. Examples are:

Processed foods

Group two is made up of Processed ingredients. These foods are products obtained from those in group 1 and which are processed for domestic use, i.e. for the preparation of home dishes or in catering. The processing methods of these ingredients are, for example, pressing, refining. They include:

Processed foods make up group three. They are foods that are produced starting from unprocessed foods, therefore from group 1, added with foods from group 2, therefore with processed ingredients.

These foods are subjected to different industrial preparation methods, such as cooking and non-alcoholic fermentation. The preparation processes increase the shelf life of the product or modify its sensory characteristics. They are added with oil, salt and preservatives.

Examples of processed foods I am:

Ultra-processed foods

The foods and drinks that belong to this group are composed of a fairly long list of ingredients (5 or more ingredients). You can almost always find the ingredients used for processed foods, such as oil, salt and preservatives, but they also contain additives that add enhance and cover flavors and odors and also modify the final consistency of the ingredients themselves. For example, they are added with:

On the label of ultra-processed foods, we will frequently find on the label: caseins, lactose, gluten or they derive from substances that are further modified, such as hydrogenated fats, hydrolyzed proteins, maltodextrins or fructose syrup.

Generally speaking, these are ultra-tasty foods, rich in sugars and fats, practically impossible to replicate at home at home, but quick and practical to consume, which is why they are widely spread.

Ultra-processed foods are, for example:

Why avoid processed and ultra-processed foods

Ultra-processed foods should be drastically limited, if not completely eliminated from the diet. In fact, they contain large quantities of added sugars and are low in fibre. A nutritional profile that contributes to weight gain and obesity, and which is also a risk factor for the onset of related tumor pathologies.

From research published on Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, it is clear that the consumption of ultra-processed foods can also be harmful to the brain. And in a short time. A diet with a modest consumption of ultra-processed foods caused a significant increase in inflammation in some areas of the brain, which manifested itself in episodes of memory loss

The experts' recommendations are to prefer foods of plant origin from organic farming, to use processed ingredients in a moderate manner and to prefer natural ingredients that have undergone the minimum transformation process necessary to be edible. Group 4 foods, i.e. ultra-processed foods, on the other hand, should be eliminated from a healthy and balanced diet because they are totally unbalanced on a nutritional level.

Beware of infections from contaminated foods.

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