The Paradox of Ultraprocessed Foods

The Paradox of Ultraprocessed Foods from Mercola

If your diet isn’t made up of fresh, whole foods, you’re doing it wrong. Not surprisingly, a recent studyfound that ultraprocessed foods cause weight gain. People who eat a lot processed food consume more calories (and sugar) compared to those who eat a fresh, whole food diet, which ultimately leads to weight gain.


The study included 10 men and 10 women who lived at the NIH’s Clinical Center in in Bethesda, Maryland, for 28 days. Their meals were provided by investigators with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.

For the first two weeks, half the participants ate an ultraprocessed diet, made up of foods like turkey bacon, sweetened Greek yogurt, bagels with cream cheese, baked potato chips and chicken salad made with canned chicken — foods that some may consider reasonably healthy options. The remaining participants ate a minimally processed diet that included meats and fish, whole fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and oatmeal. For the second two weeks, the participants switched diets.

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Researchers found that when participants were eating an ultraprocessed diet, they overate on average more than 500 calories a day, which led to weight gain and body fat gain. Participants gained an average of 2 pounds while on the ultraprocessed diet for two weeks and lost an average of 2 pounds while following the minimally processed diet for the same time period.

Researchers also found that satiety lasts longer when eating minimally processed foods. Blood tests showed those on a minimally processed diet produced more of a hormone called PPY, which makes you feel full, and less of a hormone called ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. The participants eating an ultraprocessed diet also ate more quickly and consumed far more carbohydrates than their healthy eating counterparts.

An astounding 60% of the food Americans eat is ultraprocessed and these foods account for 90% of the added sugar consumption in the United States. When it comes to processed foods, weight gain isn’t the only scary side effect. These foods are also linked to diabetes, cancer and other serious health issues.

Just in case you aren’t sure which foods to stay away from, here’s a general definition of ultraprocessed food:

• Ingredients that are not traditionally used in cooking.

• Unnaturally high amounts of sugar, salt, processed industrial oils and unhealthy fats.

• Artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and other additives that imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods (examples include additives that create textures and pleasing mouth-feel).

• Processing aids such as carbonating, firming, bulking, antibulking, defoaming, anticaking, glazing agents, emulsifiers, sequestrants and humectants.

• Preservatives and chemicals that impart an unnaturally long shelf-life.

• Genetically engineered ingredients which, in addition to carrying potential health risks, also tend to be heavily contaminated with toxic herbicides such as glyphosate, 2,4-D and dicamba.

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