When one looks at the diets of the world, we find that some stand out as part of a healthy lifestyle more than others. Although these are simply observations of populations or cultures with a history of longevity and low rates of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancers, there are lessons to be learned. There is merit in looking at these traditional ways of eating that often get lost in the mire of diet advice. However, they seem to have one common characteristic – there is hardly any that includes the consumption of highly processed foods. I know, all foods are processed to an extent, but what we’re talking about here is what they should be called- ultra-processed foods defined as: “Formulations of several ingredients which, besides salt, sugar, oils, and fats, include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.” More than half of all the calories consumed in the Standard American Diet (SAD) is provided by these foods.
So the bottom line for heath: To borrow from Michael Pollan’s famous advice: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”, we can just simply say: “Eat real food, not too much, mostly unprocessed or minimally processed.