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    The average American consumes more than 50% of their total dietary energy from ultra-processed foods (UPFs). From a nutritional standpoint, as UPFs intake increases, fiber, vitamin, and mineral intake decrease. High consumption of UPFs, mainly from fast foods (FF) and ready-to-eat (RTE) food items, emerges as a critical public health concern linking nutritional quality and food safety. In the present work, a systematic database of the fatty acid composition of the most consumed UPFs in the Midwest is reported. Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids were predominant in RTE (42.5%) and FF (43.2%), respectively. In addition, the fatty acid profile in UPFs is reported according to six food categories: meat and poultry, eggs and derivatives, dairy products, seafood, baby foods, and others. Meat and poultry, and dairy products were the dominant food categories among UPFs. Meanwhile, polyunsaturated fatty acids were abundant in the eggs and seafood groups UPFs (61.8% and 46.4%, respectively) regardless of the food group. Furthermore, no significant differences were found in sugar content in UPFs. Caloric content was positively correlated with sodium (ρ = 0.748) and price (ρ = 0.534). The significance of this study relies on providing new quantitative data on the fat, sodium, and sugar contents of the most consumed UPFs in the Midwestern area of the United States. This information suggests paying more attention to these nutritional attributes, aiming to reduce their incorporation in UPF preparations. Additionally, more quantitative data are needed regarding other nutritional parameters such as protein and lipid degradation in UPFs. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: This study provides a profile of the fatty acid composition of the most consumed UPFs in the Midwestern region of the United States, as well as correlations with fat, sodium, and sugar contents in UPFs. The information offered a new perspective on the nutrition quality of UPFs, suggesting the reduction of the incorporation of these attributes in UPFs. Additionally, it will help define priority interventions for more advanced precision nutrition, especially for vulnerable populations, for example, children and older people. The overall decrease in added sugar and sodium and the service size in UPFs will significantly improve the nutritional quality of the Western diet. © 2022 Institute of Food Technologists®.


    Lisaura Maldonado-Pereira, Carlo Barnaba, Gustavo de Los Campos, Ilce Gabriela Medina-Meza. Evaluation of the nutritional quality of ultra-processed foods (ready to eat + fast food): Fatty acids, sugar, and sodium. Journal of food science. 2022 Aug;87(8):3659-3676

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    PMID: 35781710

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