Ultra-Processed US Foods Are Ultra-Bad for You. Here’s What To Know

A growing number of grocery-store foods, from fruit-flavored yogurts to packaged bread, are being tied to health concerns

May 20, 2024 | Source: The Guardian | by Cecilia Nowell

Shopping for yogurt, bread and granola bars might feel like a healthy decision. The dairy seems like a calcium-boosting choice for kids, the whole-grain bread looks better than the white bread, and granola bars appear so much better for you than chips or gummy bears – and in many ways, they are.

But a growing number of grocery-store foods – even ones that appear healthy – are what scientists today call “ultra-processed”: fruit-flavored yogurts packed full of sugars, flavorings and thickeners like guar and carob bean gum; or packaged bread, with ingredients like soy lecithin and monoglycerides slipped in alongside the flour and water.

These industrially formulated products, which are often high in fats, starches, sugars and additives, make up 73% of the US food supply today. Yet research is increasingly tying ultra-processed foods to a myriad of health concerns, like diabetes, obesity, cancer and depression. Despite those risks, the average American gets more than 60% of their daily calories from ultra-processed foods – more than in any other country in the world.