Is cooking the same as processed? Know the differences between natural, good processed and ultraprocessed foods

What do we choose then? If we process food, is it synonymous with bad? What is to process, cook it?

Although there is more information every day, it can be a bit confusing at times. However, under the semantics is the reasoning and logic that will help us understand what we are eating.

What is processed food?

There are two types of food, basically: natural and processed. The natural are those that are consumed raw, without any treatment and without changing their properties. Almost all natural foods can be processed as raw materials to make other foods.

Once some of its characteristics are manipulated and changed, they are considered processed. This is not an absolute matter, black and white. For example, a carrot cut and washed, technically (at the semantic level), is a food that could be considered processed, and yet, as its properties hardly change, it is not considered as such.

A grated tomato, for example, is closer to processing, since breaking the cell structure does change the food itself. Boil an egg, we will, no doubt, to processed food. Cooking is the most common method of food processing.

The more treated food is, the more it will fall into the category of process. Among the processing, the method is obviously adding ingredients. This brings us to the next point: is processing synonymous with bad health? Absolutely. It all depends on the type of processing and the final product.

Processing is not the same as ultra-processed

Ultra-processed foods are processed foods, but industrially. In multiprocessing, all these procedures are industrialized to be as efficient as possible. That means that the food lasts as long as possible, is easily transportable and the final result is palatable.

As a consequence, in the ultra-processed food is obtained whose nutritional quality begins to decrease. This is due to the fact that processes that reduce the quality of nutrients, their bioavailability or choose more durable and palatable but less healthy ingredients are usually used.

The NOVA system, from the School of Public Health of the University of Sao Paulo, classifies food based on its degree of processing. In it, several groups are distinguished, from one to four, according to the degree of processing that has been invested in them. Although nutrition is very difficult to generalize, this scale is quite tight and practical.

Group 3 – Canned vegetables, fruits or vegetables are products of this group; nuts and salted or sugary seeds; meat and salted fish, cured or smoked; canned fish; the fruits in syrup; Cheeses and fresh and unpackaged bread.

Thus, until group 3, with relatively simple processed to which some preservative ingredients are added, such as sugar, oil, or cooked, they would still enter the group of the good processed.

What are the good processed?

Like the ultra-processed, they are considered part of the processed, known as ” good processed .” The essential difference between them is that the latter contain ingredients and processes that do not reduce the quality of food properties or do so in a minimal way.

Again, we are faced with a color scale, without whites or blacks, where it is difficult to choose where some begin and end others as we move through it. We will find the ultra-processed the more processing the ingredients take, differing from their original features more and more. Another point is the quality of its raw materials, higher in the good process.

To distinguish between them, it is important to review, precisely, their list of ingredients and their origin, as well as the industrial procedures that have developed it, if possible. Even so, if we are facing a good prosecution nothing implies that this will be healthy.

Processing with good ingredients does not have to be healthy. Regardless of its “cataloging”, something that is still under development, we must ensure a healthy and adequate diet, rich in fiber, vegetables, and fruit, containing good quality fats, an adequate supply of micronutrients and vitamins, and minimize Sugar and other sweeteners. The same gives the quality of the ingredients if these, in themselves, are harmful to health. Of course, getting away from ultraprocessed is a good way to ensure healthy eating.

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