strawberry juice beside strawberry fruits
Juicing orange juice and pomegranate

What are Processed Foods, and Why I want You to Eat Them.

I want you to eat processed foods.

That’s a controversial statement, but it shouldn’t be. I’m going to show you why.

whole vs processed vs ultra-processed foods?

I hate to break it to you, but most of the foods we eat are processed in some way. Milk is pasteurized. Almonds are shelled. Greens powders are dehydrated, blended with additives, and packaged. When someone puts all ‘processed food’ under one umbrella, it’s a big red flag.

Let’s do a brief intro to a couple of methods that are used to officially determine if foods are whole, processed, or ultra-processed.

The NOVA classification system is a widely-used tool for the categorization of foods into levels of processing. NOVA was developed in 2009 by the Center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

NOVA has four categories of processing: 

NOVA 1: unprocessed or minimally processed foods

NOVA 2: ‘culinary ingredients’ produced from NOVA 1 foods (ie butter)

NOVA 3: processed foods, such as home baked bread, canned vegetables, and cured meats, “which are obtained by combining NOVA1 and NOVA2 foods”

NOVA 4: ultra-processed foods “made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives, with little if any intact Group 1 food.’’ These include packaged breads, infant formulas, all breakfast cereals, 

Most information about these categories can be found in the link in the paragraph above. 

I’ve referred to NOVA as a gold-standard quite a bit in my writing, but a recent study about NOVA’s functionality shows that its algorithm has loopholes that may categorize some foods incorrectly. This is because NOVA is based on descriptions, not nutritional quality. 

Here are 5 nutrition trends to ditch right now

There’s no master NOVA ‘list’ that has every food in the world. NOVA is open to interpretation by whoever is using it, which can lead to inconsistencies with deciding which foods go into what categories.

The issue with this is the miscategorization of foods. That can have some serious…


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