People often prefer foods that are quick and convenient over those that are healthy, which can lead to them opting for ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed foods are full of additives, preservatives, and unhealthy fats that are bad for your body. While they may be tempting, the long-term effects of eating these foods can include obesity, heart disease, and other chronic health problems. Avoid these 18 ultra-processed foods to live a healthier life.

Sugary Breakfast Cereal

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We all love a tasty pick-me-up in the morning, but should we be avoiding sugary cereals? Most cereal boxes are adorned with claims that they’re healthy and nutritional, but you should take this with a pinch of salt. Many cereals are loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which can lead to various health issues. Try to stick to healthier options with higher fiber and less added sugar or choose unprocessed breakfasts like plain oatmeal, greek yogurt, or eggs.

Packaged Cakes

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Packaged cakes and biscuits are a favorite sweet treat for many! People often crave these delicious ultra-processed snacks, but they can contain large amounts of sugar, additives, fat, and emulsifiers. Eating too much of this can really harm the digestive microbes in your gut. These microbes play an essential role in your immune system, your risk of diseases, and even your mood, so looking after your gut health is crucial!

Instant Noodles

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The Financial Times says, “in 2022, according to the World Instant Noodle Association, humanity collectively bought a record 121bn servings of instant noodles.” This is a staggering and slightly worrying amount of instant noodles, considering the negative effects they can have on your health. These super-convenient meals are packed with additives and low in fiber, and the sachet of sauce also has a high level of sodium. If you often rely on pot noodles for a quick dinner, it’s probably a good idea to cut down on these!

Processed Meats

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Processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and deli meats can be some of the most harmful ultra-processed foods! The processing methods used, like smoking, curing, and adding chemical preservatives, lower the nutritional value of these meats and sometimes create harmful compounds. Processed meats are frequently high in unhealthy fats and sodium, as well as preservatives like nitrates and nitrites, which can increase the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and certain cancers.

Frozen Dinners

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We’re all guilty of being a bit lazy now and again and just making ourselves a frozen dinner or ready meal, but it’s when you regularly eat these ultra-processed meals that they can become harmful. The quality of some frozen dinners has improved in recent years; however, there are still many options that include unhealthy things like gelling agents, preservatives, and a high sugar content. Make sure you check the nutritional labels and choose your ready meals carefully.

Frozen Pizza

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Frozen pizza is a nasty combination of highly processed cheese, meat, dough, preservatives, and stabilizers under the disguise of a tasty meal! Pull back the mask and you can see that one of the nation’s favorite foods is actually one of the most unhealthy ultra-processed foods. Make sure you eat frozen pizza in moderation, pay attention to your portion sizes, and choose brands that are better for you to continue to enjoy this treat without risking your health.

Chocolate Spread

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Treating your kids with a chocolate spread sandwich in their lunch box can make their day, but make sure you’re not doing this too often! Chocolate spread is yet another delicious treat that’s high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives. Indulging in this spread’s chocolatey goodness too frequently can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Maybe just save the chocolate spread for special occasions!

Soda

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It has been proven that drinking too much soda and sugary drinks can increase your chance of developing breast and colon cancers as well as heart disease. CNBC reports that “researchers found that for every additional sugary drink a person consumed, their risk of dying from heart disease increased by 10 percent.” Try to steer clear of unhealthy soda, but be careful what alternatives you choose, as certain artificial sweeteners can be just as bad for you!

Potato Chips

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Potato chips are many people’s go-to snack when they’re feeling a bit peckish, but there’s a somewhat harmful reason why you might crave chips so much! Ultra-processed potato chips often use flavor enhancers to enrich their taste, which is what makes this snack so addictive. Despite how irresistible they may be, you should try to keep the chips to a minimum to avoid any unwanted health issues.

Candy Bars

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We all know that candy bars and other confectionery are unhealthy, and a sweet treat every now and again is pretty harmless, but you shouldn’t reach for the candy bars too often! Some candy bars include so many unnecessary ingredients that can wreak havoc on your body. You could try fruit as an alternative way to satisfy your sweet tooth or seek out confectionery that’s not as bad for you by checking the nutrition label.

Margarine

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You probably use margarine a lot in your everyday lives, for example in sandwiches, on toast, on potatoes, or in baking or cooking. This spread is often considered a healthy substitute for butter; however, this ultra-processed household staple can actually be surprisingly bad for you! While margarine might provide some nutrients, like vitamin A, it’s typically made with emulsifiers and preservatives, which are bad for your health.

Artificially Flavored Ice Creams

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When summer comes around, there’s no better way to cool down than with some delicious ice cream! The bad news is that many ice creams contain artificial flavors and colors that can be dangerous for your health. However, the good news is that your summer isn’t completely ruined, as you can find ice creams with more natural ingredients and no artificial flavors or colors if you search the grocery aisles carefully!

Sweetened Yogurts

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Many of us eat yogurts as a nutritious dessert or snack, thinking they’re doing wonders for our health when in reality, some yogurts might actually be doing the opposite! Certain yogurts contain artificial sweeteners, modified starches, thickening agents, gelling agents, and emulsifiers. Be on the lookout for these red flags when buying your yogurts, and make sure you avoid them at all costs. It might sound boring, but plain yogurt is often the best option!

Protein Bars

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Are protein bars just glorified candy bars? These ‘healthy’ bars have become exceedingly popular amongst people interested in fitness. According to the BBC, “the global market for protein bars alone is due to rise to $7bn (£5.2bn) by 2027, up from $4.7bn in 2019.” This shows how much people are buying into the trend of protein bars and believing the hype. However, these snacks often have high levels of sugar, fat, and additives, and are relatively low in fiber.

Packaged Bread

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There’s no way bread is unhealthy, right? Wrong. Well, wrong in some cases. To be specific, packaged bread can count as an ultra-processed food and can be full of complicated ingredients like refined carbs, additives, and added yeast to help it last longer on the shelves. Fresh bread or homemade bread is the saving grace. Don’t worry, all food isn’t out to get you, you just have to know what to look out for.

Canned Soups with Additives

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Canned soup is the king of quick and convenient meals! If you’re stuck on what to have for lunch or dinner or you’re in a rush, canned or packet soups will always save the day, but at what cost? In many cases, this cheap, easy comfort food is packed full of sodium and additives, which can contribute to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Keep a watchful eye on the nutritional labels when you’re shopping.

Chicken Nuggets

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Most people enjoyed chicken nuggets when they were kids, and if you have kids, you probably put them on their plate pretty regularly, but you should think twice before relying on this food for a convenient meal. Chicken nuggets are often made with much less than 100% actual meat, so who knows what else is in there! As well as this, the delicious coating is significantly unhealthy, made with fried, refined wheat and multiple ultra-processed ingredients.

French Fries

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It’s a no-brainer that fast food isn’t good for you and that you should always have it in moderation. Fast food like french fries will more often than not contain trans fats, which are unhealthy fats that can raise the risk of developing heart disease and bad cholesterol. Trans fats are actually banned in some countries, they can be that dangerous! It’s a good idea to stay away from deep-fat-fried french fries and always check the label for trans fats.

15 Foods You Shouldn’t Eat After 50

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Age is just a number, but not regarding eating habits. The older you grow, the more your body needs nutritious food to stay fit and healthy. While there are many things you’re encouraged to eat, when you cross 50, your go-to foods can’t look the same as they once were. Your body is changing, and so should your eating habits. 

Read: 15 Foods You Shouldn’t Eat After 50

15 Nostalgic Dinners from the Past That Are Rarely Seen Today

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The scent of a family meal cooking can bring back memories, especially if it’s a childhood favorite we don’t often have as adults. This article showcases 18 classic dinners that provided convenience and budget-friendliness for parents and are worthy of a revival. These traditional dinners from the past trigger nostalgic memories and are worth rediscovering.

15 Nostalgic Dinners from the Past That Are Rarely Seen Today

19 ‘Healthy’ Foods That Are Making You Gain Weight

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Eating healthy but still gaining weight can be frustrating. What’s more surprising is that some foods marketed as healthy are contributing to those extra pounds. These seemingly good-for-you options can be loaded with hidden calories, from granola to smoothies. Let’s delve into 19 ‘healthy’ foods that might secretly sabotage your diet.

19 ‘Healthy’ Foods That Are Making You Gain Weight

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