We know that eating less processed food is the key to health & longevity.
But it can be CONFUSING to figure out what a “processed food” actually is. Until now. Meet the NOVA system….
The NOVA System
Simple system that sorts food into 4 groups based on how processed it is
I’m a fan of the NOVA system & I think it’s a smart way to guide our food choices.
NOVA was designed by the Center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition in Brazil and is widely used in research studies all over the world.
This system acknowledges that just about EVERYTHING WE EAT IS PROCESSED in some way like pre-washed greens, unsweetened plain yogurt, and canned beans. But not👏all👏processing👏is👏 bad👏.
It’s only the “ULTRA PROCESSED” (group 4) that is associated with negative health effects and should be avoided when possible.
Here’s more about each NOVA group…
GROUP 1: UNPROCESSED OR MINIMALLY PROCESSED FOODS
Foods that typically have no label or have just 1 ingredient listed.
Goal: Eat these the most.
Examples: fruits, vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, oats, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, unsweetened plain yogurt, herbs & spices, coffee, tea, etc.
GROUP 2: PROCESSED CULINARY INGREDIENTS
Ingredients that are used to prepare, cook, and season food.
Goal: Add small amounts.
Examples: olive oil, avocado oil, grass fed butter, coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, sea salt, etc.
GROUP 3: PROCESSED FOODS
Foods that typically have 2-3 simple, recognizable ingredients.
Goal: Part of a healthy diet in small amounts.
Examples: canned fish like sardines w/ added salt and oil, salted nuts/seeds, smoked meat, beef jerky, fermented alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer, canned legumes or vegetables preserved in salt, etc.
GROUP 4: ULTRA-PROCESSED FOODS
Products that usually have ingredient lists w/ many unrecognizable additives.
Goal: Avoid when possible.
Examples: soda pop, ice cream, cookies, cake, candy, energy drinks, chips, margarine, white bread/buns, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, margarine, instant soups/noodles, frozen pizza, etc.
Remember: When enjoyed socially (think birthday cake at a birthday party or hot dogs at a baseball game) these foods can add JOY and improve overall wellbeing.
TRY THE APP mentioned below👇to help you identify the different NOVA groups of the food you buy.
TRY THE APP called Open Food Facts… It’s free & fun to use. It allows you to scan UPC codes of food packages to help determine what NOVA GROUP it is. You can find it in your app store.
Group 1 = Eat these the most.
Group 2 = Use small amounts.
Group 3 = Eat small amounts.
Group 4 = Avoid if possible.