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Beyond Natural: an exploration of processed food

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What is processed food and is there a place for it in our diet? We've collaborated with BBC Future to explore the good, bad and ugly sides of processed food.

What counts as processed food, and is it all that bad for you? Our new series, in collaboration with BBC Future, is an exploration into the world of food processing. Together we take a look at its history, where it can cause issues and where it can be beneficial.


Check out our guides below and discover the difference between processed and ultra processed food, the top processed foods to avoid and the healthy convenience options you can turn to in a hurry. As always, you'll find plenty of delicious recipes to inspire your next meal along the way.

You can find even more simple, healthy recipes and collections in our health hub, including budget and kid-friendly recipes, such as carrot biryani, cauliflower-kale sausage bake and easy chicken pie.

What is processed food?

What is processed food?

What does processed and ultra-processed food really mean? Are we eating too much of it and does it affect our children's health? Dietitian Frankie Phillips explains all in our guide to processed food.

Is bacon bad for you?

Is bacon bad for you?

Bacon is a popular processed food, but is it really safe to eat? Does eating processed meats such as this increase the risk of cancer? Dietitian Emer Delaney looks into the research.

10 processed foods to cut down on

High Angle View Of Various Meats Seen Through Glass At Store

Which processed foods should you avoid? Registered nutritionist Nicola Shubrook shares ten highly processed foods you can easily swap for healthier alternatives, as well as offering plenty of recipe suggestions and inspiration.

Top 10 healthy convenience foods to try

Hummus with pitta bread and vegetables

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard to eat healthily or pull together a balanced meal when strapped for time. The good news is there are some great supermarkets buys that are convenient but still offer nutritional benefits. Discover some versatile ingredients to use in speedy meals such as chickpeas, lentils, pesto and more.

Top 10 healthy fast food recipes

10 healthy fast food recipes

Often, it's when we're pressed for time, that we can find ourselves reaching for more convenient, ultra processed options. Yet, there are other 'fast' food options that we can turn to when we might want something healthy. Skip the takeaway and prepare a speedy weeknight dinner at home with our nourishing fast food recipes, from curries to burgers and stir-fries.

Enjoyed this? Try more BBC Future collaborations

Eating for gut health: Microbes & Me
Is a vegan diet healthy? The Vegan Factor

This article was published on 8 June 2021.


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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