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Ultra Processed Foods VS. Whole Foods


What is ultra-processed food?

I’m sure you are like me and may have never heard of this term. I had heard “processed food” but not ultra-processed food until I saw an article by Dr. Mercola about the recent study and report from researchers in Brazil. Look at their findings:

  • Eating ultra-processed foods is a significant cause of premature death, according to researchers with the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil

  • The study found about 57,000 premature deaths were due to the consumption of ultra-processed foods in Brazil among 30 to 69 year olds.

  • Previous meta-analyses found that the more ultra-processed foods consumed, the greater the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, along with all cause mortality.

If you are like me and want to make healthy choices with your diet, this should cause an alarm to you. It did to me. Therefore, I began to study this subject and this is what I found.

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We need to know what processed food and ultra-processed food is so we can make healthy choices.

By definition, a processed food is simply one that has been altered from its original form. The International Food Information Council defines processing as “any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it is ready for us to eat.”

So, unless we’re plucking apples directly off a tree or drinking milk straight from a cow, the vast majority of foods we eat are technically processed.

But basic preparation and preservation techniques certainly don’t turn wholesome foods (such as whole grains and frozen vegetables) into “junk.” Just because something has gone through a process doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy to eat.

Unprocessed or minimally processed items are foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs — foods you might see included on the Whole30 diet or Mediterranean diet.

On the other end are ultra-processed foods, which are defined as “industrial formulations with five or more ingredients.” (

If you want more proof, Sally, a registered Dietitian, from provides us with an example of these different types of food.

  • Unprocessed or minimally processed foods: They’re in their natural state, or pretty close. This includes fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, dried beans and lentils, plain yogurt, raw nuts, pasteurized milk, and frozen meat.

  • Processed foods: These include things that have salt, sugar, or fat added to them like canned beans and vegetables, cheese, canned tuna, canned fruit, and fresh bread.

  • Ultra-processed foods: They’re items that have more ingredients included such as dyes, stabilizers, and emulsifiers, and contain very little intact, unprocessed foods. These include foods like cookies, sugary breakfast cereal, chicken nuggets, soda, chips, and canned soup. They tend to be high in calories, low in nutrients, and marketed heavily.

Though it would be virtually impossible to never eat processed or ultra-processed foods, we can be intentional about choosing whole, healthy foods most of the time. Your health depends on your choices!

If you would like to receive a FREE chart that will show YOU how to swap out the ultra-processed foods for healthier versions, then sign up to our free mailing list! Once you sign up, we won't send you endless emails, but only give you the best free health tips, updates about Joy, and exclusive offers!

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About Me


Joy and her husband, Bruce live in Moody, Alabama just outside of Birmingham, Alabama.  She is the proud mother of four and Grandmother of nine. 


Joy has been in ministry for 35 years and ministers in the gift of a prophetic psalmist and teacher with an emphasis on intimacy with Holy Spirit. Her heart is to host the presence of the Lord everywhere she goes through worship, prayer, the Word of God and prophetic revelation. 


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