Newest food groups

Posted by Diana van Eyk on November 8th, 2010

Here are the latest new food groups according to the online magazine Food Politics:

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  • Type 1: Unprocessed or minimally processed foods that do not change the nutritional properties of the food.
  • Type 2: Processed culinary or food industry ingredients such as oils, fats, sugar and sweeteners, flours, starches, and salt.  These are depleted of nutrients and provide little beyond calories (except for salt, which has no calories).
  • Type 3: Ultra-processed products that combine Type 2 ingredients (and, rarely, traces of Type 1).

These groups according to Carlos Monteiro, a professor at the University of São Paulo.  The reason, he says, is that the most important factor now, when considering food, nutrition and public health, is not nutrients, and is not foods, so much as what is done to foodstuffs and the nutrients originally contained in them, before they are purchased and consumed. That is to say, the big issue is food processing – or, to be more precise, the nature, extent and purpose of processing, and what happens to food and to us as a result of processing.

Monteiro makes it clear that all foods and drinks are processed to some extent.  Fresh apples are washed and, sometimes, waxed.  Drinking water is filtered.  Instead, he distinguishes three types of processing, depending on their nature, extent, and purpose. Here is Marion Nestle’s full article on the subject.

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On a personal level, this makes sense.  I have eaten mostly unprocessed foods for many years.  This way, I know exactly what I’m getting, meals are simple to prepare and costs less, and enable me to buy organic on a budget.

Eating whole foods also enhances our relationship to the foods we eat, since we have a more direct understanding of what we’re putting into our bodies.

It’s nice to see something that makes so much intuitive sense be communicated in this way.

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