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Ultra-Processed Foods or UPFs – what are they?

Ultra-Processed Foods or UPFs – what are they?


Ultra Processed Foods or UPFs are a hot topic at the moment with lots of press coverage (and science)  that they are bad for our health. But what are they and what does Field Doctor think? 


Alongside coverage of UPFs, there has been some press singling out ready meals as bad, BUT we disagree with this as not all ready meals are created equal. From day one we set out to make meals that were good for your health, made from whole foods, with maximum plants, without a processed or artificial ingredient in sight. So please read on for more info… 

What are Ultra Processed Foods / UPFs? 

They are defined as those in the NOVA food classification system Group 4, but essentially, they are foods that are formulations made from foods and additives that have undergone industrial processing with little, if any, unprocessed foods and ingredients. A good rule of thumb is if the food is high in sugar, saturated fat and salt and contains ingredients you wouldn’t usually find in your kitchen or in a cookbook then that food is likely to be a UPF.

What evidence is there that they are bad? 


There is growing weight of evidence that UPFs may be bad for your health – with evidence showing their potential role in increased risk of obesity, hypertension and cancer, but there is some nuance in this as some processing can have a positive effect.  

Field Doctor mission 


At field doctor we support the movement to eat better, avoiding the ultra-processed foods wherever you can, avoiding carbonated drinks, sweets and foods high in fat, salt and sugar. All our meals are designed by a dietitian and made with real food ingredients including dietary fibre, good sources of protein and healthy fats, offering real wholesome nutrition and goodness.  


Yes, our meals are processed, but  that doesn’t make them unhealthy, in fact we believe the opposite is the case. We use cooking methods in our Somerset kitchen – washing, chopping, heating and freezing to turn fresh whole foods into something that is convenient for you to eat at home when you need it.  

We never use artificial flavours, additives, preservatives or hydrogenated fats. We use, for example, red wine vinegar, which contain sulphites and acts as a preservative and we use chopped tomatoes that contain a bit of citric acid. In some of our lean + lighter range we use a wheat protein, so that we can achieve the protein level of the meat-based dishes in the range to support the research.  

All our meals are frozen, which is an amazing natural preservative, and we use a tapioca starch, that is similar to corn flour, to ensure the meals hold together and don’t become watery, locking in the nutrition.   

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