Most foods are processed before they are eaten, whether they are canned or fresh. Minimally processed foods include salad mix, bagged dry beans, roasted unsalted nuts, frozen vegetables, and fruits. Some nutrition experts refer to heavily processed foods as ultra-processed. While it is possible to find minimally processed foods in your local grocery store, they are often loaded with additives. Here’s a list of processed foods that are commonly found in the average household.
Most processed foods have additional ingredients, such as salt or sugar, to prolong their shelf life and make them more appealing to consumers. Some foods are also fortified with vitamins and nutrients, washed, chopped, or packed to make them more shelf stable. Some foods are processed even if they are labeled as “natural.”
A recent study examined trends in U.S. youth’s consumption of ultra-processed foods. The researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted between 1999 and 2018. More than 34,000 kids and young adults were surveyed about their daily diets. The researchers divided foods into four categories: minimally processed foods, industrially processed foods, and ultra-processed foods.
Ultra-processed foods contain a lot of sugar and calories. Most are not very filling and raise blood sugar levels higher than minimally processed foods. These foods are highly associated with obesity and promote mindless eating. They are also a source of pro-inflammatory ingredients and unhealthy fats. In fact, the list of ultra-processed foods is long. If you’re wondering, what is the most processed food, you’ve come to the right place.