60% of American Diet Ultra-Processed: Linked to Health Risks 

United States: According to recent research, it is revealed that about 60 percent of the calorie intake in the American diet, on an average basis, comes from ultra-processed foods (UPFs), impacting health negatively. 

More about the finding 

According to Jinan Banna, a registered dietitian and professor of nutrition at the University of Hawaii, “Ultra-processed foods contain ingredients that we generally wouldn’t find in our kitchen, and they often contain high amounts of sugar and salt,” as CNBC News reported. 

Banna added, “They may also contain additives, and they often are stripped of their nutritional values. So they may have very little vitamins and minerals [and] fiber.” 

UPFs develop health conditions. 

According to the health experts in the American Medical Association, eating UPFs is generally linked with the growing risk of developing health-related conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart-related conditions, and dementia. 

According to Banna, a patient undergoing diet consultation said, “Some [ultra-processed foods] I would never consume, such as soda,” as CNBC reported. 

60% of American Diet Ultra-Processed: Linked to Health Risks. Credit | Freepik
60% of American Diet Ultra-Processed: Linked to Health Risks. Credit | Freepik

“Soda doesn’t have any nutritional value other than just calories in the form of sugar. So they’re empty calories, which don’t give us any of the nutrients that we need,” Banna continued, as CNBC News reported. 

Banna adds that instead of soda, opting for other kinds of variety of drinks is preferable, such as tea and water, either sparkling or not. 

She says, “Sometimes I drink a cold hibiscus tea. Plain water, of course, is a great alternative,” and, “Even coffee can be an option, of course, consumed in moderation.” 

Processed food consumed by Americans the most – Study 

A recent study presented last at an annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition noted the dietary data collected in 1995, which came from half a million Americans between the ages of 50 and 71. 

It was used to find out whether there was a link between dietary choices and mortality rates over this span of 30 years. 

And out of 124 food choices, ultra-processed drinks were the most used and the number one choice among people who had the highest intake of ultra-processed foods consumed. 

According to the study’s lead author, Erikka Loftfield, “Diet soft drinks were the key contributor to ultra-processed food consumption. The second one was sugary soft drinks,” as CNN reported. 

Drinks such as diet sodas and energy drinks are much-processed food, which people prefer more than the others, as Loftfield added. 

The lifespan of those eating high amounts of UOPF in their diet, is shorter life by 10 percent, as CNN reported. 

5/20 rule to check nutrition labels 

As Banna mentioned, to use as a rule of thumb, use the 5/20 method when checking the nutrition labels on the foods you eat. 

She said, “You can use the daily value,” and, “You can use the daily value,” 

Additionally, she added you noticed the daily value percentages of specific nutrients such as sodium, sugars, or saturated fat. 

She added, “The idea is, if [it’s] 5% or less, then the food is generally low in that particular nutrient. If 20% or more, you can consider the food high [in the nutrient],” and “So that’s just a quick way to glance at the label and know if a food contains a little bit or a lot.”