The Science of Ultra-Processed Food
A 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods leads to
- 12% increase in associated
cancer risk .
- 21% increase in the
risk of depressive symptoms .
- 12% increase in
cardiovascular disease risk .
- 15% increase in
type 2 diabetes risk .
- 11% increase in
the risk of being overweight .
"Real food is what the world ate for millennia without risk of long-term disease"
The consumption of ultra-processed food is linked to many diseases,
including cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease
and Non-communicable diseases like metabolic syndrome, obesity, and diabetes
Diets relying on highly processed foods are associated with exposure to industrialized
preservatives and pesticides 
Processed food is defined by seven engineering criteria 
- Mass produced
- Consistent batch to batch
- Consistent country to country
- Uses specialized ingredients from specialized companies
- Consists of pre-frozen macronutrients
- Stays emulsified
- Has long shelf or freezer life
The degree of food processing is provided by the NOVA classification system
, a manual curation which defines four discrete categories:
- Unprocessed or minimally-processed (NOVA1):
Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, meat, fish, and milk.
- Processed culinary ingredients (NOVA2): Oils, fats, table sugars, and salt.
- Processed foods (NOVA3): Mainly items with a minimal number of ingredients without
additives, like simple canned foods, some breads, and cheese.
- Ultra-processed foods (NOVA4): The largest class that captures multiple types of breads, cereals,
hamburgers, carbonated drinks, hot dogs, and pizzas.
The NOVA classification does not offer the degrees of processing for foods, hence all food in
the ultra-processed NOVA4 class are considered equally ultra-processed.
Consequently, 60% of the global, 73% of the USA, and 80% of the South Africa food supply
is classified ultra-processed
Relevant Research Papers
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