Watch Out For These Ultra-Processed Foods That Are Considered Healthy

Read on as we list UPFs that might appear healthy even though they are not.

Watch Out For These Ultra-Processed Foods That Are Considered Healthy

Many multigrain bread options are still made with refined grains

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are products that undergo complex industrial processes and contain various additives. These products often contain low-quality ingredients, such as refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial preservatives. Examples of UPFs include sugary drinks, packaged snacks, fast food, and ready-to-eat meals.

While it's challenging to label any UPF as truly "healthy," some ultra-processed foods may appear healthier due to marketing tactics or claims on the packaging. However, their overall nutrition profile remains concerning. For instance, a UPF may claim to be made with whole grain or fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, but it may still contain high levels of added sugars, unhealthy trans fats, or harmful additives. Keep reading as we list UPFs that might appear healthy even though they are not.

10 Ultra-processed foods that may seem healthy but aren't:

1. Granola bars

Many store-bought granola bars are loaded with sugar, artificial additives, and unhealthy fats. A healthier alternative is making homemade granola bars with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, and whole grain oats, and adding nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for added nutrition.

2. Flavoured yogurt

Flavoured yogurts often contain high amounts of added sugars. Opt for plain yogurt and add your own natural sweeteners like fresh fruits or a drizzle of honey.

3. Breakfast cereals

Many breakfast cereals marketed as healthy choices are packed with sugar, refined grains, and artificial colours. Choose whole grain cereals with no added sugars or make your own granola with whole oats, nuts, and seeds.

4. Veggie chips

Despite the name, veggie chips are typically highly processed and contain little actual vegetables. Instead, enjoy homemade vegetable crisps by thinly slicing fresh veggies and baking them until crispy.

5. Protein bars

While some protein bars are beneficial, many are heavily processed and filled with added sugars and artificial ingredients. Look for bars with simple, recognisable ingredients or choose whole food options like a handful of nuts or a hard-boiled egg.

6. Bottled smoothies

Packaged smoothies often have added sugars and lack the fiber found in whole fruits. Make a homemade smoothie with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, plain yogurt, water, or natural juice as a base.

7. Multigrain bread

Many multigrain bread options are still made with refined grains. Opt for whole grain bread made with whole wheat, oats, or other whole grain flours.

8. Reduced-fat peanut butter

Reduced-fat peanut butter often contains added sugars or unhealthy hydrogenated oils to compensate for the reduced fat. Choose natural peanut butter made with just peanuts and avoid added sugars or oils.

9. Fruit-flavoured yogurt drinks

These drinks often contain artificial flavours and added sugars. Instead, try blending fresh fruits with plain yogurt and water for a homemade, healthier version.

10. Margarine

Many margarines are made with hydrogenated oils and additives. Opt for real butter or healthier plant-based options like olive oil or avocado for spreading on bread or cooking.

The main issue with UPFs lies in their impact on health when consumed in excess. Studies have linked the consumption of UPFs to various health problems like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers. Therefore, it's generally recommended to limit the intake of ultra processed foods and opt for whole and minimally processed alternatives, which are often more nutrient-dense and promote overall well-being.

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