I have written recently about the dangers of processed food (and particularly highly processed foods), both on my blog and here on my forum. It is a subject that has generated a great deal of (healthy!) debate over the past few months in particular and which has featured a lot in the media. This could be because of the relationship between obesity and Covid-19 illness which appears to have come into focus during the past 18 months, or it could be because the dangers of highly processed foods are now better understood.
Whatever, it is a topic we should all be interested in and debating. This article by Xanthe Clay from The Telegraph is, in this vein, well worth reading, partly because of what it has to say about the different categories of processed foods that there are, and why some are more potentially damaging than others. From the article, I particularly draw out the following categorisations: Group 1: Unprocessed or minimally processed foods Unprocessed foods are edible parts of plants (seeds, fruits, leaves, stems, roots) or of animals (including meat, fish, eggs and milk). Minimally processed foods include pasteurised milk, as well as food that has been simply dried, frozen or ground. Group 2: Processed culinary ingredients Includes oils, flour, butter, sugar and salt: foods not meant to be eaten alone. Group 3: Processed foods Most have two or three ingredients, and are made essentially by adding salt, oil, sugar or other substances from Group 2 to Group 1 foods. Includes canned fish, fruits in syrup, cheeses and freshly made breads. Ingredients may include preservatives and antioxidants. Group 4: Ultra-processed foods Includes many soft drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, reconstituted meat and pre-prepared frozen dishes. Contains ingredients you wouldn’t find in your kitchen, like casein and invert sugar. Additives may include colouring, flavour enhancers or emulsifiers. Manufacturing methods include processes you could not do at home, like hydrogenation and hydrolysation. Read the article if you get the chance and let me know your feedback.