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When ultra-processed food aren’t bad: Breads and Breakfast cereals

What are ultra-processed foods?

Maybe it’s time that we widened the conversation about what these foods actually are.

The NOVA system can help us find out. NOVA (not an acronynm) is a food classification system which has defined 4 food groups based on the nature, extent and purpose of industrial processing:

  1. unprocessed or minimally processed foods (fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs)
  2. processed culinary ingredients (oils, butter, salt, sugar)
  3. processed foods (canned or bottled vegetables, legumes, fruit, fish, pickled vegetables, smoked and cured foods)
  4. ‘ultra-processed foods’ (soft drinks, energy drinks, confectionery, cakes, pastries, salty snacks, pre-prepared foods)

Many ultra-processed foods are connected to obesity, poor dental health, diabetes and other health issues, food access insecurity and environmental issues. This has led many countries to highly regulate these ultra-processed foods through labelling and restrictions on their sale. Which is mostly a good thing.

But where do healthier food options sit within the NOVA system? Foods that might be high in dietary fibre and have a high Health Star Rating such as weetbix® and wholegrain breads but are considered UPF’s because these are made in a factory, and many contain added ingredients such as vitamin and minerals etc?

Where do these foods sit and are they still healthy? Find out

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