Beans on toast are ultra-processed, but they’re actually good for you | Tech News

Beans on toast are a family favourite

Beans on toast are a family favorite (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)

A nutrition charity has given beans on toast the green light to form part of a balanced diet, highlighting that not all ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are unhealthy.

The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) conducted a survey into awareness of ultra-processed foods, finding 33% of participants were trying to reduce UPFs in their diet, up from 25% in 2021.

Ready meals, vegetarian meat alternatives and cereals with added sugar were among the most commonly identified ultra-processed foods, but fewer people were aware that baked beans, low-fat fruit yoghurts and sliced ​​bread fell into the same category.

However, the BNF is keen to emphasize that these foods and others should not necessarily be ditched from the diet.

“For many of us, when we get home after a busy day, foods like baked beans, wholemeal toast, fish fingers or ready-made pasta sauces are an affordable way to get a balanced meal on the table quickly,” said BNF spokesperson Bridget sunset. ‘These may be classed as ultra-processed but can still be part of a healthy diet.’

Ultra-processed foods are usually defined using a classification system called NOVA, which determines them as those made by industrial processing and often contains additives such as colours, flavours, emulsifiers or preservatives. The category includes a wide range of foods and drinks.

Fish fingers are defined as ultra-processed

Fish fingers are defined as ultra-processed (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)

More obvious ultra-processed foods include takeaway deep fried chicken, deep pan pizza, pastries, sweets and sugary drinks. But while sliced ​​wholemeal bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals, baked beans, tomato-based paste sauces and fruit yogurts are by definition ultra-processed, they are also a source of important nutrients.

In a position statement, the BNF wrote: ‘While support to reduce intakes of less healthy processed foods is important, blanket advice to avoid UPFs may have unintended consequences that have not been fully investigated for different groups within the population.’


High-processed foods to keep in the kitchen

  • Baked beans
  • wholemeal bread
  • Fish fingers
  • Tomato-based sauces
  • Wholemeal breakfast cereal
  • Fruit yoghurts

Source: British Nutrition Foundation

Research has linked high intakes of UPF with a range of illnesses including type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and cardiovascular disease, but given the observational nature of the studies, has not been able to confirm a definitive relationship.

And while survey participants were more attuned to the possible effects on their health, 49% also agreed that processed foods were useful in saving time when cooking.

‘It’s great if you can cook from scratch when you have time, but I know for me, as a working parent, it’s often not an option,’ said Ms Benelam.

‘We need to make healthy eating easier and more affordable, not more difficult and expensive. Choosing healthier, processed foods is one way that can help people fit healthy eating into their lives.’

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