A dietitian who researches ultra-processed foods mostly avoids them. Here are her 3 favorite healthy, quick lunches.

    Dietitian Linia Patel eats a healthy diet 80% of the time, and whatever she likes the other 20%.

    Linia Patel/Getty Images

    The average American gets more than 60% of their calories from ultra-processed foods.Eating lots of UPFs has been linked to serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease. A dietitian who doesn’t eat many UPFs has lunches including soup and salad.

    A dietitian who researches ultra-processed foods and only eats them occasionally shared what she has for lunch with Business Insider.

    Linia Patel, who is part of a team at the University of Milan that studies UPFs, believes people are eating “far too many” of these foods that have been linked to a range of health problems.

    At the same time she appreciates they’re a prominent feature of the Western diet, making them hard to avoid for even the most health conscious. The average American gets more than 60% of their calories from UPFs, and they make up around 73% of the US food supply.

    So Patel limits her UPF intake without cutting out any food groups entirely by following the 80/20 rule. She tries to cook from scratch at home and stick to a healthy diet 80% of the time, and the other 20%, she eats whatever she wants, including UPFs.

    Patel also highlighted the limitations of classifying foods as ultra-processed, as it groups together very obviously unhealthy foods, such as candy, with dietary staples, such as pre-packaged bread.

    According to the NOVA system, which was created by Brazilian scientists to categorize foods by their level of processing, UPFs are highly marketed, convenient, and made using industrial processes.

    “It clumps breakfast cereals in the same group as sugary drinks and crisps,” Patel said.

    With all this in mind, here’s what Patel eats for lunch.

    Vegetable soup with beans

    Vegetable soups are easy to make and you can cook a big batch to eat throughout the week, Patel, who is also the author of “Food For Menopause,” said. It’s a great way to eat lots of vegetables too.

    To boost the protein and fiber content of her soup and make it more filling, Patel adds lots of beans and legumes.

    She might pair the soup with a slice of sourdough, wholewheat, or seeded bread for extra fiber and energy.

    You can also buy pre-made soups from the grocery store, but it’s important to look at food labels because some might be ultra-processed, she said.

    Grainy salad

    Other times, Patel whips together a quick salad for lunch. She always includes lots of vegetables, some protein, and some healthy carbohydrates.

    Usually, she uses a bag of pre-cooked grains as the base of her salad because they’re super convenient. “I don’t have to boil the rice, I just chop the top off and microwave them for two minutes,” she said.

    Although some pre-cooked grains could contain additives, for Patel it’s worth it because they save her time. “Even as a dietitian, I want to have foods that make it easier to put together a healthy plate,” she said.

    Sardines on toast

    Another of Patel’s go-to lunches is sardines on toast with a side salad.

    Tinned sardines are an inexpensive store cupboard staple that you don’t have to cook. Plus, they’re a great source of protein, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids.

    For the salad, Patel typically uses pre-washed salad leaves from the store, which helps her put the meal together quickly, she said.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


    Latest posts