The Surprising Twist in the Whole vs. Processed Debate

Think of it as a showdown between two sides: one rooting for whole or natural foods, the other cheering for super processed snacks. A recent study from the University of Washington adds a twist to this battle, showing that it’s not so black and white. The study reveals that making a meal plan from only natural foods isn’t easy, and some surprisingly good foods fall into the processed category. Let’s dig into the study’s details to understand what’s really going on and how it can help you make better food choices.

First, let’s get what we mean by “processed” foods. These are foods that have a little something extra added in, like more fat, sugar, or salt. They also have special things put in to make them taste better, last longer, or feel different in your mouth.

But here’s the shocker: Most of us think of sugary snacks as processed, which is true. But also, more than 90 out of 100 grains we eat, even the healthy ones like whole-wheat bread and oatmeal, are also called processed. Even 70 out of 100 of the beans, nuts, and seeds we eat fall into this category. It’s kinda confusing, right?

Study Breakdown

The scientists used a computer to cook up “healthy” diets that fit a few rules:

  • The diets had to be 2,000 calories exactly.
  • They had to give you enough of 22 important nutrients without giving you too much of anything else.
  • They had to be similar to what the 857 people in the Seattle Obesity Study ate.
  • The computer had a big list of 360 foods. Some were really natural, some a bit processed, and some super processed. 

The big question was: Can we create a good meal plan only from natural foods or just from super processed foods?

What the Study Found

The computer couldn’t make a perfect meal plan with only natural or only super processed foods. Only three combinations made meal plans that fit all the rules: One had foods from all groups. The others had foods from three groups but skipped the natural foods.

Here’s the twist: The problem was mostly with vitamin D. When they used half as much, the computer could make meal plans with only natural or only super processed foods. 


Processed Foods Aren’t Always Bad

Some processed foods are cool. They help us get nutrients, taste better, and are easy to eat. Some even have extra vitamins.

Not All Natural Foods Are Winners

Natural foods can be great, but not always. Sometimes less natural stuff can give us more energy, especially for folks who exercise a lot.

No Perfect Diet Exists

The computer-made meal plans had weird stuff like candy bars and fries. It shows that there’s no perfect food plan for everyone. People need different things to feel good.

In the food debate, things aren’t always simple. The recent study reminds us that processed foods aren’t always bad, and natural foods aren’t always the champions. It’s like a puzzle, and you have figure out what’s best for you. However, with a mix of foods that make you happy and healthy, you’re the real winner.


Understanding Ultra-Processed Foods: 5 Key Insights for Better Health

When it comes to our diet, we’ve all heard that consuming excessive soft drinks, fast food, and sugary treats isn’t the path to optimal health. But what does the data really say about the impact of ultra-processed foods on our well-being? Recent research from China delved into this question, analysing data from various studies involving over 334,000 individuals worldwide. The findings shed light on the connection between highly processed foods and health outcomes, revealing some valuable insights that can guide our dietary choices and approaches.

1. Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Consequences

The comprehensive analysis highlighted that individuals who consumed the highest amounts of ultra-processed foods faced the most adverse health outcomes. These outcomes ranged from heart disease and high blood pressure to metabolic syndrome, obesity, and even depression. Consuming 30 percent or more of daily calories from these foods was associated with an increased risk of various health issues.

2. Nutritional Composition Matters

Ultra-processed foods often contain excessive amounts of fat, sugar, and salt, while lacking essential nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Their hyper-palatability triggers our brain’s reward system, leading to cravings and overeating. This nutrient-poor quality makes them easy to overconsume and can crowd out healthier, minimally-processed whole foods.

3. Moderation and Context are Key

Rather than demonising all processed foods, context matters. The research emphasised that placing certain foods on a strict “never” list might backfire. Instead, finding a balance that keeps ultra-processed foods within a range of 10 to 20 percent of daily intake, with the rest coming from whole foods, can offer a more sustainable and realistic approach.

4. Gradual Changes for a Long-lasting Impact

Just as with training a puppy, gradual changes often yield better results in improving dietary habits. Adopting small, manageable adjustments in your eating patterns can lead to lasting change. Examples include incorporating wholegrain buns, adding vegetables to pizza, or opting for a piece of fruit before indulging in snack chips.

5. Uncover the Underlying Issues

Before cutting back on ultra-processed foods, it’s crucial to dig deeper into our motivations for choosing these foods. Factors such as busy schedules, emotional eating, lack of sleep, cultural influences, and availability of healthier options can drive these choices. Addressing the root causes can lead to more effective and sustainable changes.

The relationship between ultra-processed foods and our health is complex, influenced by a combination of factors including nutrient content, moderation, and individual circumstances. Hence, it’s vital to approach this topic with an open mind, understanding that context matters and that sustainable changes come from small, achievable adjustments. By leaning towards a balanced and mindful approach to your diet, you can make choices that support your overall well-being.


Sign Up. Keep Healthy. Save Money.

Join our newsletter, so we can reach you with our special offers and discounts, best health tips, and free access to our health webinars.

Copyright © 2022 Clardoon Enterprises Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Add to cart