An artistic, colorful collage depicting a variety of ultraprocessed foods like soda, chips, instant noodles, and packaged sweets, with a background of a faded scientific graph and a calendar marking 3

These are the ultraprocessed foods to steer clear of, based on a 30-year study – CNN

Understanding Ultraprocessed Foods

Utraprocessed foods are items that have undergone extensive processing and often contain ingredients typically not found in home kitchens. These include food additives like preservatives, colorants, flavorings, and emulsifiers. Examples of ultraprocessed foods include soft drinks, packaged snacks, instant noodles, and ready-to-eat meals.

The Impact of Ultraprocessed Foods on Health

A landmark 30-year study recently highlighted the long-term health impacts associated with consuming ultraprocessed foods. The extensive research points to significant links between these foods and various health issues such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. The study corroborates previous research suggesting that a diet high in ultraprocessed foods can lead to poor nutritional quality and numerous health risks.

Key Findings from the 30-Year Study

One of the most striking outcomes of the study is the correlation between ultraprocessed food consumption and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. The findings suggest that individuals consuming high quantities of these foods are at a significantly higher risk of developing conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.

The study also connected high consumption of ultraprocessed foods to increased obesity rates. This link is crucial, considering the rising obesity rates globally, particularly in urban settings where fast foods and convenience foods are more readily available.

Another critical finding was the relationship between ultraprocessed foods and type 2 diabetes, which demonstrated a clear trend: higher intake of these foods correlates with an increased likelihood of developing the disease. This is consistent with previous studies that have pointed to high sugar levels and unhealthy fats in these foods as major contributing factors.

Specific Ultraprocessed Foods to Avoid

The study provided a detailed list of ultraprocessed foods that pose significant health risks. Here are some key categories and examples to consider limiting or avoiding:

Sugary Beverages

Sodas, sweetened teas, and energy drinks are high in sugars and often contain little to no nutritional value. Regular consumption can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance, both of which are precursors to more severe health issues.

Processed Snacks

Chips, cookies, cakes, and candies are not only high in sugar and unhealthy fats but also preservatives and artificial flavors that can adversely affect your overall health.

Frozen and Ready Meals

These convenient meal options usually have high sodium content and additives used to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life. They are typically low in vital nutrients necessary for healthy bodily functions.

Processed Meats

Research has linked high consumption of processed meats, like sausages, bacon, and ham, to an increased risk of cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.

Tips for Reducing Ultraprocessed Food Consumption

Shifting away from ultraprocessed foods can seem daunting due to their convenience and addictive flavors. However, by incorporating more whole foods into your diet and preparing meals at home, you can significantly reduce your intake of these harmful substances.

Plan and Prepare

Planning meals ahead of time and cooking at home can help you avoid the temptation of convenience foods. Try to include a variety of unprocessed options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your weekly meal plans.

Read Labels Carefully

When shopping for packaged foods, be vigilant about reading labels. Look out for long ingredient lists and unfamiliar terms, which are often indicators of excessive processing.

Opt for Whole Foods

Focus on buying whole foods that are more satiating and nutrient-dense. This not only benefits your health but also supports sustainable food systems.


The findings from the 30-year study underscore the urgent need to re-evaluate our food choices and decrease our reliance on ultraprocessed foods. By understanding the health risks associated with these products and actively choosing healthier alternatives, individuals can significantly improve their health outcomes and overall well-being.


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