There are processed foods and then there are ultra-processed foods. While this may sound like an arbitrary difference, it’s quite important.
The processing of foods is not innately negative. In fact, many processed foods are packed full of nutrients. Think crushed tomatoes in a can, frozen broccoli, or dried lentils. All of these foods are processed and still healthy.
Ultra-processed foods are different. These foods have been processed so heavily that they are generally void of valuable nutrients. They typically contain large amounts of salt, sugar, or fat. Think cakes, pastries, cheese puffs, and candy bars. Even most ‘veggie’ chips have been processed so heavily that they are no longer considered a health food.
Below is a simple infographic to help highlight the important differentiation between whole foods, processed foods, and ultra-processed foods.