Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are harming our health

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It seems like only yesterday we could enjoy our toast and cereal in the morning without a care in the world. Not anymore. Research published in the The British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows that eating a lot of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) such as sugary cereals, ready meals and fizzy drinks has been linked to poor mental health and a greater risk of dying from heart issues.

UPFs are usually higher in fat, sugar and salt and contain chemicals, colourings, sweeteners and preservatives that extend shelf life. And thanks to Dr Chris van Tulleken, author of the bestselling book Ultra-Processed People: The Science Behind Food That Isn’t Food, it’s a term now popping up everywhere.

Despite the latest research, this is an area beset by contradictions and confusion, with many of us wondering what exactly constitutes an UPF and if there’s anything left to eat that won’t make us fat or unwell.