In this busy world people always looking for ways to save time and money be it working or cooking. For instance, in order to save time in cooking people prefer ready-to-cook foods but apart from reducing the cooking time, it reduces the days in their lifespan. Ultra-processed foods will lessen half of your burdens but will increase the risk of other diseases.

Though ultra-processed foods are cost-effective, tasty, convenient and ready to consume they contain more harmful chemicals than nutrients. It is hard to avoid processed foods, but you can replace them with healthy alternatives. In this blog, you can explore what is ultra-processed food, how it affects your physical and mental health and how you can reduce it.

What Is Ultra-Processed Food?

Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed food is prepared with added chemicals and preservatives to elongate the shelf life of food. These industrially produced foods go under a lot of modifications before they are canned. The modifications include some harmful chemicals and processing methods that will change the natural state and nutritional value of the food.

The NOVA food classification system categorizes food products based on the processing they undergo.

Minimally or Unprocessed Foods- Pre-cut fresh fruits, washed and bagged greens, and frozen vegetables are unprocessed foods. They don’t contain added ingredients.

Processed Culinary Foods –  Oil, butter, sugar, and salt are some processed foods that go through some basic processing methods.

Processed Foods – Processed foods contain added sugar, salt, fat, oil and other ingredients.

Bread, cheese, and tofu are some minimally processed foods.

Ultra-Processed Food –  Ultra-processed foods are rich in industrial ingredients.

They are high in fat, sugars and other chemical agents. Ultra-processed food is made through different processes like hydrogenation, and moulding, and consists of added preservatives, and flavour enhancers.

Ultra-Processed Foods and Physical Health

Ultra-processed foods are unhealthy, it will increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, cancer and some life-threatening diseases.  The highly-added sugar and salt will raise the sodium or glucose level in the blood, which can cause some serious health issues.  

The major problem is when you modify the natural nutrients of the food it won’t be healthy anymore. The processing methods highly affect the structure of nutrients in the food, which is called the food matrix. Also, the modification in the food matrix will leave a great impact on your health condition. 

Additionally, ultra-processed foods are rich in added oils, salt, protein substances, flavourings, preservatives, and sugar which contribute to weight gain. Studies have shown that they are major contributors to obesity. Apart from weight gain, ultra-processed food disturbs gut health. Since ultra-processed food lacks fibre content it will affect the bowel movement. 


To reduce junk food cravings, you can include healthy snacks in your diet. You can add fruits (fresh/ frozen), dry fruits, nuts, pulses, and yoghurt with no sugar, or caffeine. Instead of buying outside you can cook your favourite snack varieties, for a healthier life.

Ultra-Processed Foods and Mental Health

Excessive consumption of processed foods will lead to anxiety or depression. The unhealthy ingredients in unprocessed foods cause inflammation and it can cause depression. 


Recently a study has revealed that people who consume ultra-processed food are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression than people who eat less. In such cases eating healthy foods is highly recommended. Try to eat foods that contain vitamin B, vitamin B12, vitamin D and amino acids as they help improve your mental health. 

Bottom Line:

Mental health is as important as physical health. You must know that food determines physical and mental health. A healthy diet could keep your gut healthy and in turn, it will reduce depression and improve your mood.

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I'm Vannessa, a certified masters in curating unique diet plans specializing in nutrition, weight management, stress management etc. I was formerly a member of Healthline's dedicated research team and was recognized as one of their top writers for a decade.I am also actively participating in several health forums, including MomMD and MedHelp.I'm passionate about helping people achieve optimal health through strength training, mindfulness techniques. My articles and guides offer a blend of research and practical strategies to support your specific needs. Let's work together to unlock your full potential for a healthier life.I postgraduated my degree in Advanced Food Safety from Queen's University Belfast. (