Ultra-processed foods are by definition food items that have been processed with inexpensive industrial additives, have little nutritional value, contain few whole foods, and are high in calories, added sugar, salt, and fat.
“Junk” foods can include a wide range of plant-based products, including commercially produced bread, pastries, cakes, cookies, carbonated drinks, pre-packaged snacks, flavored dairy drinks, breakfast cereals, energy bars, instant sauces, soups, noodle pots, desserts, according to the NOVA classification system, which divides food products into categories based on the number of industrial processes they go through.
It is important to note that for many people in middle- and high-income countries, ultra-processed foods provide convenience, continue to displace minimally processed whole foods, and now make up more than half of their daily caloric intake.
Although a plant-based diet that is nutritious and balanced includes a variety of foods, regular consumption of ultra-processed meals made from plants is linked to poor health consequences.
For instance, the researchers found that merely a 10% increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods was linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke in a 2019 cohort study based on data from a Trusted Source that followed 105,159 persons over 5 years.
This slight increase in ultra-processed foods is also linked to a slightly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, some malignancies, and exposure to hazardous chemicals from food packaging.
Additionally, plant-based diets high in ultra-processed foods are said to have increased calorie intake, which could result in weight gain and a higher risk of developing obesity.
Vegetarian and vegan diets can eliminate food groups, increasing the likelihood of nutrient shortages, and adding to the detrimental health concerns connected to diets high in ultra-processed foods.
Vegetarians and vegans generally have reduced amounts of minerals including iron, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, according to certain studies from reliable sources.
Additionally, 2022 obtained from a reliable source revealed that vegetarian women are more likely to experience hip fractures than those who occasionally eat meat.
It’s conceivable that these unfavorable effects are related to vegetarian and vegan diets’ exclusion of animal sources of calcium, iron, and vitamin B12 as well as meats. When people eat ultra-processed meals rather than nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, it may exacerbate these issues.