Can You Really Eat Processed Food And Be Healthy? British Health Experts Say Yes

The consumption of ultra-processed and processed foods has come under the lens in the recent past. We are always wary of eating store-bought foods like readymade meals, sauces, packaged breakfast cereals and snacks. However, amidst a busy and hectic schedule, it becomes quite a task to eat healthy without consuming at least some quantities of packaged foods. For instance, a popular British breakfast – baked beans on toast – has been shunned for being ultra-processed. However, a body of British health experts has revealed that it can actually be consumed as part of a healthy diet.

Baked Beans, Fish Fingers Can Be Consumed On Healthy Diet: British Health Experts 

The news – shared by a body called British Nutrition Foundation – shows that concern about ultra-processed foods has increased. They found this in a survey conducted in March 2023 among 2,323 British adults. They asked users to vote on their preferences around consuming ultra-processed foods. The term ‘ultra-processed foods’ is based on a food classification method called NOVA. It basically refers to foods that are subjected to heavy amounts of industrial processing, and contain additives such as colours or preservatives. This includes biscuits, cakes, ready meals, sausages, chips and soft drinks. These foods have been linked to irreversible health issues and long-term lifestyle diseases.

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“Many of these are less healthy options that we are already advised to reduce in the diet such as sugary drinks, cakes, ice creams, pastries, sweets, takeaway fried chicken or deep pan pizza,” read the report. “But foods like sliced wholemeal bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals, baked beans, tomato-based pasta sauces and fruit yogurts are also usually classified as ultra-processed and these can be a convenient and affordable source of some important nutrients,” it added.

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Which Processed Foods Are Okay To Be Consumed As Per The Report?

Thus, even though these foods are classified as highly-processed, they can be safely consumed as part of a healthy diet. The experts from the British Nutrition Foundation suggested that some healthy processed foods can be included in the diet in a balanced way. This is because they can be a quick, easy and inexpensive way to fulfil the daily dietary requirements and get good nutrition. Bridget Benelam, a BNF spokesperson explained, “These foods are an affordable way to get a balanced meal on the table quickly. These may be classed as ultra-processed but can still be part of a healthy diet.”

Here are some of the processed foods that the British experts gave a clean chit –

  • Baked beans
  • Wholegrain toast
  • Fish fingers
  • Readymade pasta sauces
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fruit yogurts

“It’s great if you can cook from scratch when you have time, but I know for me, as a working parent it’s often not an option. We need to make healthy eating easier and more affordable, not more difficult and expensive. Choosing healthier processed foods is one way that can help people fit healthy eating into their lives,” added Benelam.

What did you think of this new report about ultra-processed foods? Tell us in the comments.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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