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For better health, eliminate ultraprocessed foods

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Let’s focus on the ultraprocess, which is something that happens to much of today’s food. Let’s think about the unhealthy ingredients and the task at hand: the process of avoiding unhealthy foods you love but that don’t love you back.

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine analyzed over 230,000 food products and found that 86% of those made by the top 25 food manufacturers were ultraprocessed. These foods, containing added salt, sugar, oils, unhealthy fats and chemicals used to imitate the taste, smell and texture of minimally processed foods, increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, memory loss, cancer and more.

But their prevalence makes them hard to avoid. So here are three ways you can begin to process ultraprocessed foods out of your life.

1. Start somewhere: Add one piece of fruit to lunch and a salad (extra-virgin olive oil and lemon dressing) to dinner, whatever else is on your plate.

2. Substitute water, unsweetened tea and black coffee for other beverages.

3. Beware deceptive packaging: “Fat free” often means added sugar; “sugar free” could mean added artificial ingredients. Opt for foods with as few ingredients on the label as possible or unpackaged, plant foods with no label at all.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to

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