In our constant quest for healthier eating, we often fall into the trap of believing that certain foods are good for us just because their label touts them as "low in fat" or "no added sugar. But beware! Some of these foods may be ultra-processed and not as healthy as we think.

What are processed and ultra-processed foods?

Before delving into the list of foods that we think are healthy but are ultra-processed, it's important to understand what processed and ultra-processed foods are.

Processed foods are those that have been altered from their natural state, through the application of culinary techniques or preservatives. For example, foods that have been cut, peeled, cooked, canned, frozen, or pasteurized are considered processed foods.

On the other hand, ultra-processed foods are those that have been highly processed and contain a large amount of artificial ingredients and additives, such as colorings, flavorings, and preservatives, which they are not found naturally in food

Processed foods can be healthy, as long as they maintain the nutrients and don't add large amounts of unhealthy ingredients, such as saturated fats, added sugars, and salt. However, ultra-processed foods are generally less nutritious and can be harmful to health if eaten in large quantities.

It's important to remember that not all processed foods are bad, and some are even necessary for the human diet. For example, processed foods like bread, pasta, and cheese can be healthy choices if they're carefully chosen and eaten in moderation. The important thing is to read food labels and look for healthier options to ensure a balanced and nutritious diet.

What foods that we thought were healthy are not so healthy?

Energy bars

Energy bars are the perfect snack to take with you to the office or gym, right? Well, not so fast. Many energy bars contain high amounts of added sugar and saturated fat, as well as being highly processed and containing artificial additives.

Often, energy bars contain more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, which is equivalent to more than two teaspoons of sugar. That's a lot! Plus, they often contain saturated fats and hydrogenated oils, which are unhealthy fats for your heart. If you are looking for an energy snack, opt for fresh fruit or nuts.

Energy bars

Flavored yogurt

Yogurt is a healthy and nutritious food, but many flavored yogurts contain large amounts of added sugar and other processed ingredients. Also, some flavored yogurts contain less protein than plain yogurts and are therefore less nutritious.

To enjoy the benefits of yogurt, opt for plain yogurt and add fresh fruit or honey to sweeten it. You can also add nuts or seeds for a boost of protein and healthy fats.

Flavored Yogurt

Breakfast cereals

Breakfast cereals are one of the foods we think of as healthy, but they can actually contain large amounts of added sugars and other processed ingredients. Also, some breakfast cereals contain less fiber than other foods like eggs or oatmeal.

When looking for breakfast cereals, be sure to read labels carefully and look for whole grains that are low in sugar and free of artificial ingredients. A healthy option is to mix whole grain cereals with fresh fruit and plain yogurt for a nutritious and balanced breakfast meal.

Breakfast Cereals

Protein shakes

Protein shakes can be a convenient way to increase your protein intake, especially after an intense workout. However, many protein shakes contain ingredients artificial and added sugars. Also, some protein shakes are high in calories and saturated fat.

If you're looking for a healthy protein shake option, opt for a high-quality protein powder and mix with skim milk, plain yogurt, and fresh fruit for a balanced, nutritious drink. Avoid premixed protein shakes that contain unhealthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrups, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives.

Protein Shakes

Almond milk and other milk alternatives

Almond milk, soy milk, and other milk alternatives are becoming increasingly popular with people looking for healthier options than cow's milk. However, many of these milk alternatives contain added sugars and other processed ingredients.

If you opt for a milk alternative, be sure to read the label carefully and look for options with no added sugars and no artificial ingredients. It's also important to remember that these milk alternatives may not contain the same amount of protein and calcium as cow's milk, so it's important to make sure you're getting enough protein and calcium from other sources in your diet.

Almond milk and other alternatives to milk

White mold bread

Sandwich white bread is a staple in many kitchens, but it's important to remember that it's highly processed and may contain unhealthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrups and hydrogenated oils. Also, sliced white bread has a high glycemic index, which means it can spike your blood sugar levels and won't keep you full for long.

If you opt for bread, look for whole grain options that contain more fiber and fewer processed ingredients. You can also try alternatives like rye bread or sourdough bread to get more variety in your diet.

White mold bread

York ham or cooked ham

Ham is a popular choice for sandwiches and salads, but it often contains high amounts of sodium and preservatives. Also, some types of cooked ham contain added sugars and other processed ingredients.

If you opt for cooked ham, look for options without added sugar and low in sodium. You can also try healthier protein options like roast chicken or turkey.

York ham or cooked ham

Fried and salted nuts

Nuts are a healthy and nutritious option, but fried and salted nuts can contain high amounts of sodium and unhealthy fats. Additionally, some fried nuts contain artificial additives and other processed ingredients.

If you opt for nuts, look for options with no added salt and no artificial ingredients. Raw or oven-roasted nuts are a healthier option.

Fried and salted nuts

Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce is a popular seasoning for pasta and pizza, but many tomato sauces contain high amounts of added sugar and other processed ingredients. Also, some tomato sauces contain preservatives and artificial additives.

If you opt for tomato sauce, look for options with no added sugars and no artificial ingredients. You can also choose to make your own homemade tomato sauce with fresh and natural ingredients.

Tomato Sauce

Energy drinks

Energy drinks may seem like a quick and easy way to boost your energy, but many of these drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and added sugars. Also, some energy drinks contain unhealthy ingredients like taurine and other stimulants.

If you're looking for an energy drink option, opt for healthier options like green tea or coffee. It is also important to remember that energy drinks should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Energy Drinks
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