Saturday, January 28

Ultra-processed foods are also a problem for the planet, not just for your health

There are more than 7,000 edible plants in the world, but 90% of the world’s intake of carbohydrates comes from only 15, and more than half of the global population depends on only three: rice, corn and wheat.

The ideal amount of ultra-processed should be in your diet is… zero.

These foods are addictive, nutritionally poor, related to hydrogenated oils, trans fats, additives and sugars and increase the risk of suffering diabetescancer or cardiovascular diseases.

There are even studies linking moderate intake of ultra-processed foods with a 14% increase in all-cause mortality.

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But ultra-processed foods are not only bad for your health, but also for the planet: various investigations emphasize how they reduce biodiversity.

In this article published in The Conversation emphasis is placed on how crucial it is to reduce these products to improve the sustainability of the food system.

7,000 edible plants… of which 3 are mostly used

Humanity is living in frantic times with many challenges ahead: fighting climate change, stopping the sixth mass extinction that is already underway, or feeding 9 billion mouths by 2050. Given the increase in the world population, reduce the environmental impact of the food industry it is an urgent need.

The ultra-processed aggravate this crisis and impoverish the richness of the diet. In the planet there are some 7,000 edible plants, but 90% of energy intake comes from 15 crop species. In addition, more than half of the world’s population only depends on 3: rice, corn and wheat.

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While it’s also important to point out excess calories and reduce factory-farmed products like dairy and meat, ultra-processed they also cause concern. They have a marked role in the diets of high-income countries and have not stopped rising in low- and middle-income countries.

In this research published in BJM GlobalHealth It is stated that diets, increasingly globalized and with a greater presence of ultra-processed foods, banish or displace the cultivation, manufacture and consumption of traditional foods.

Skip the fast food, ready meals, and chips

Junk food, cakes, sweetened drinks or chips are some examples of ultra-processed foods that are displacing fruits, vegetables, legumes or dairy products, fish and meat with minimal processing.

It is important to differentiate between traditional processing methods, behind yogurts, cheeses, pickles or beer, such as fermentation, canning and bottling, essential for conservation, safety and global security, and ultra-processed ones, which are treated “beyond than necessary,” the authors explain.

Analyzing the environmental part, the manufacturers of this type of article choose a reduced amount of crops: essentially corn, wheat, soybeans and oilseeds, such as palm oil.

The reasons are their low economic cost and high performance, which allows them to be mass-produced, destined to form part of products such as refined flour. Animal ingredients also come from animals that depend on those same crops.

Other ingredients used in ultra-processed foods, such as cocoa, sugar, and some vegetable oils, are also strongly associated with biodiversity loss.

Scientists recommend divert to the production of more nutritious foodsuch as pasta or wholemeal bread, avoid the demand for products associated with areas in conflict and deforestation, such as the aforementioned palm oil, which is causing massive logging and loss of habitat for orangutans in Southeast Asia.

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This article was published in Business Insider Spain by Andrea Núñez-Torrón Stock.

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