The key to healthy and sustainable diets… more processed foods?


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09 Sep 2020

The key to healthy and sustainable diets… more processed foods?

The key to healthy and sustainable diets… more processed foods?
Source: Food Navigator

Opportunities abound for the food industry to address public health and environmental issues through clever food processing, say nutrition scientists.

While some people steer away from foods containing ingredients that are perceived as ‘unnatural’, processed foods don’t have to be unhealthy. That’s according to the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF)’s new special edition exploring innovations in the food industry to improve the nutrient profile of food products and thus potentially improve public health.

The special edition, which contains a series of newly-published papers, argues that acceptance of new ingredients will be a key to ensuring a healthier and more sustainable future for the food supply as demand for food grows alongside rises in global population.

“Just because many of the processed foods currently available are unhealthy when overconsumed, this does not mean that processed foods per se are unhealthy or undesirable. It is possible to create healthier processed foods by the careful application of science and technology,”​ said Professor Julian McClements, University of Massachusetts, author of one of the papers.

For decades, nutritionists and public health campaigners have urged the general public to eat more fruits and vegetables, nuts and wholegrains. But this has not done enough to improve the overall health status of the general population, he said, or ‘overcome the imbalance between energy consumed and energy expended’.

“Many people do not have the time or resources to prepare foods from fresh ingredients every meal. Instead, many rely on the convenience of processed foods that are relatively quick and easy to prepare. We should, therefore, be encouraging the food industry to create healthier processed foods, rather than demonising all processed foods.” ​

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