There are many definitions of what exactly constitutes “ultra processed foods” depending on who you speak to. This short article provides an excellent description from NOVA in Brazil with links to additional information about the country’s Food Guidelines. Here by way of introduction, is information, with quotes and links.
Group 1. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods from NOVA
Quote: “Unprocessed (or natural) foods are edible parts of plants (seeds, fruits, leaves, stems, roots) or of animals (muscle, offal, eggs, milk), and also fungi, algae and water, after separation from nature.“
See NOVA Link for remainder of the information on Group 1. Nova Groups for Food Processing
Some countries use the NOVA groups for their dietary guidelines or goals, for instance:
Brazil’s dietary guidelines recommend to limit consumption of processed food and avoid ultra-processed food.
France’s public health nutritional policy goals for 2018-2022 aims to reduce consumption of group 4 ultra-processed foods by 20%
Group 2. Processed culinary ingredients – NOVA
Quote: “Processed culinary ingredients, such as oils, butter, sugar and salt, are substances derived from Group 1 foods or from nature by processes that include pressing, refining, grinding, milling and drying. The purpose of such processes is to make durable products that are suitable for use in home and restaurant kitchens to prepare, season and cook Group 1 foods and to make with them varied and enjoyable hand-made dishes and meals, such as stews, soups and broths, salads, breads, preserves, drinks and desserts. They are not meant to be consumed by themselves, and are normally used in combination with Group 1 foods to make freshly prepared drinks, dishes and meals.”
See NOVA Link for remainder of the information on Group 2. Nova Groups for Food Processing
Group 3. Processed foods
Quote: “Processed foods, such as bottled vegetables, canned fish, fruits in syrup, cheeses and freshly made breads, are made essentially by adding salt, oil, sugar or other substances from Group 2 to Group 1 foods”
See NOVA Link for remainder of the information on Group 3. Nova Groups for Food Processing
“Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar
B) unpronounceable C) more than five in number or that include
D) high-fructose corn syrup”
~ Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food
Group 4. Ultra-processed food
Quote: Ultra-processed foods, such as soft drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, reconstituted meat products and pre-prepared frozen dishes, are not modified foods but formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives, with little if any intact Group 1 food.
Quote continued: Ingredients of these formulations usually include those also used in processed foods, such as sugars, oils, fats or salt. But ultra-processed products also include other sources of energy and nutrients not normally used in culinary preparations. Some of these are directly extracted from foods, such as casein, lactose, whey and gluten.
See NOVA Link for remainder of the information on Group 3. (4 more paragraphs) Nova Groups for Food Processing
Following are a few examples of easy home cooked meals which are also nutritious and delicious:
The reason for copying the pertinent text from the Guidelines is that they are simply the best; and easily understandable by almost anyone. Hoping you have a better idea of what is healthy food for you, your children and others you love. So grateful to Dr Aseem Malhotra (see Video link below) who mentioned these guidelines in a recent video. Please share this information with others who may be totally unaware of the unhealthiness of some of the foods they eat especially in Group 4.
Best wishes, Health and Happiness in 2021 ~ Liz
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”
~ Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931)
Links & References
- The NOVA Foods Classification Reference
- “Why Eating Real Food Saves Lives” interview Dr Aseem Malhotra (Fall 2020) 55 minute video
- The Truth About Fat & Sugar is Finally Explained article by Dr Aseem Malhotra
- Sugar has 56 Names by Dr Robert Lustig
- Sugar equivalent infograms a great tool – Dr David Unwin