Bread, Butter, Cooking Oil Are Unhealthy, Classified As Ultra-Processed Food

Rohit Kulkarni

Rohit Kulkarni

May 30, 2024

Bread, Butter, Cooking Oil Are Unhealthy, Classified As Ultra-Processed Food

All the toil, all the labour of a man is for what?

It is believed to be for the bread and butter!

But what if we told that your average bread and butter, being ultra-processed foods, can potentially cause major health issues like obesity, strokes, and diabetes.

As per the recent dietary guidelines for Indians issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), bread, butter, cooking oil, and milk-based health drinks are all processed foods and can lead to major health issues.

Before diving deep into this topic, lets nail down on what is meant by ultra-processed food.

What is Ultra-Processed Food?

These are the food products that have been significantly altered from their original form through various industrial processes. 

These are the ones that typically contain various ingredients that are not very commonly used in the home cooking, especially such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other additives designed to enhance flavor, texture, and shelf life. 

Examples of these include: sugary beverages, packaged snacks, ready-to-eat meals, fast food, and many types of breakfast cereals.

Characteristics of ultra-processed food

  1. High in sugar, fat, and salt: With these ingredients added to enhance the taste, they have various health issues, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
  2. Low nutritional value: They have more calories but lack in essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
  3. Extensive use of additives: They have more synthetic ingredients (additives) that the ones found typically in traditional or minimally processed foods.
  4. Highly palatable and convenient: Since they appeal to the sense of taste due to being palatable, they can lead to overconsumption.

List of foods classified as ultra-processed

As per the guidelines by ICMR, Group C food items include commercially produced bread, breakfast cereals, cakes, chips, biscuits, fries, jams, sauces, mayonnaise, commercially produced ice cream, protein packs powders, peanut butter, soy chunks, tofu, frozen foods with additives, commercially produced cheese, butter, paneer with additives, meats, plant-based meats, refined flours of cereals, millets and legumes, energy drinks, health drinks added to milk, beverages and fruit juices.

There are many culinary ingredients such as cooking oils, refined sugars, salt and spices in the group also. Additionally, in the list are other cosmetic food additives such as artificial colours and emulsifiers are often used in their processing.

Side effects of ultra-processed foods

It has been advised by the council to avoid the overconsumption of “level C” foods since they are subjected to extensive techniques which lead to reduction of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibre in such foods.

Various processing techniques include over-refining of flours, juicing of fruits, subjecting the food items to high temperatures and pressures, and canning and preservation.

Rohit Kulkarni
Rohit Kulkarni
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