A nutrition charity has given the green light to beans on toast to be part of a balanced diet, pointing out that not all ultra-processed foods (UPF) are unhealthy.
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) conducted a survey on awareness of ultra-processed foods, finding that 33% of participants were looking to reduce UPFs in their diet, up from 25% in 2021.
Ready meals, vegetarian meat alternatives and cereals with added sugars were among the most commonly identified ultra-processed foods, but fewer people were aware that baked beans, low-fat fruit yoghurts and sliced bread fell into the same category .
However, the BNF stresses that these foods and others shouldn’t necessarily be eliminated from the diet.
“For many of us, when we get home after a busy day, foods like baked beans, whole-grain toast, fish fingers or ready-made pasta sauces are an inexpensive way to quickly get a balanced meal to the table,” said Bridget , BNF spokesperson. Well done. “These may be classified as ultra-processed, but they can still be part of a healthy diet.”
Ultra-processed foods are usually defined using a classification system called NOVA, which identifies them as those obtained from industrial processing and often containing additives such as colourings, flavourings, emulsifiers or preservatives. The category includes a wide variety of food and beverages.
The most noticeable ultra-processed foods include take-out fried chicken, skillet pizza, pastries, sweets and sugary drinks. But while sliced whole-wheat bread, whole-grain breakfast cereals, baked beans, tomato-based pasta sauces, and fruit-flavored yogurts are ultra-processed by definition, they’re also a source of important nutrients.
In a statement, the BNF wrote: “While advocacy for reducing intake of less healthy processed foods is important, blanket advice to avoid UPFs can have unintended consequences that have not been thoroughly studied for different groups.” within the population”.
Highly processed foods to keep in the kitchen
- Bean stew
- Whole grain bread
- Fish sticks
- Tomato-based sauces
- Whole grain breakfast cereals
- Fruit yoghurt
Source: British Nutrition Foundation
Research has linked high UPF intake with a number of diseases including type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and cardiovascular disease, but given the observational nature of the studies, it has been unable to ascertain a definitive report.
And while survey participants were most sympathetic to the possible effects on their health, 49 percent also agreed that processed foods are helpful in saving time when cooking.
“It’s great if you can cook from scratch when you have the time, but I know that for me, as a working parent, that’s often not an option,” Ms. Benelam said.
‘We need to make healthy eating easier and more convenient, not more difficult and expensive. Choosing healthier processed foods is one way that can help people incorporate healthy eating into their lives.’
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