More than half of what we eat comes in the form of ultra-processed foods – commercially manufactured flavorings, colorings, emulsifiers, and ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and protein isolates.
What do we know about what they do to our insides?
The scary answer: not all that much.
Scientists in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will use three grants received by the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise to try to advance what we know.
The study, being done in collaboration with researchers at Duke, will specifically look at the impact on reward processing and energy intake in adolescents, vascular health and glucose homeostasis in mid-life adults.
“An easy rule of thumb for ultra-processed at the grocery store is if the food comes in a crinkly package in the middle aisles,” said Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech and faculty member of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.
“Some foods are in a gray area, like some potato chips that contain only potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt. While these are industrially produced, they don’t contain ingredients that make them ultra-processed,” DiFeliceantonio said.