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Bitesize Nutrition - Processed Foods

Processed food has been altered from its original form before it is available for us to eat. Some forms of processing, such as freezing or drying, are helpful as they retain nutrients; while others involve many chemicals and additives, and can alter the original food so much it is unrecognisable to our bodies. Our bodies were not designed to eat food with these artificial ingredients.

Cheap and freely available products such as sweets, cakes, chocolate, crisps, ready meals, biscuits and sausage rolls are heavily processed and provide little nutritional value. Overconsumption of these foods can contribute to many of today’s common health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and many more.

Tips to reduce your processed food intake

  • By making your own lunches and dinners you have more control over what goes into your food and can avoid excess salt, sugar and fat.
  • Start to become label wise – look for foods in which sugars are less than 5g per 100g and salt is less than 0.3g per 100g.
  • Find your local farmers’ market and buy your fresh, seasonal fruit and veg there.
  • Start looking at ingredients list on food packaging – if there are more than 5 or 6 ingredients it is probably overly processed and not great for your overall health and wellbeing.
  • As often as possible, eat whole foods, eat real food.

Further Information

The Alliance for Natural Health has published an interesting read on the dangers of ultra-processed foods.
The British Nutrition Foundation has also published an interesting read on processed foods.

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