Health Tips: We say down with UP -- ultraprocessed foods, that is

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Remy, the animated rodent in the movie “Ratatouille,” had the right attitude about food when he declared: “If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.”

Unfortunately, many kids (and parents) don’t share that attitude. A study from Tufts University reveals that 67% of the calories that kids and teens eat come from ultraprocessed foods. Ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat food, frozen pizzas and burgers account for more than 11% of total calories; packaged sweet snacks and desserts are around 13%. About half of young folks’ calories come from moderately processed foods, such as unhealthful dairy and spoonfuls of sugar, honey and maple syrup. Healthier unprocessed or minimally processed foods contribute just 23.5% of total calories.

Why do folks avoid tasty, healthy foods? Have they been taught that cooking is a chore, and anything fast and easy is more desirable? We’d say yes. And once that’s mostly what they eat, have they destroyed their ability to enjoy diverse flavors? Yup. Studies show that high-fat foods damage your sense of smell -- and smell accounts for 80% of your ability to taste.

Kids who are nutritionally starved (that’s what’s happening), end up with premature diabetes, heart disease, more severe asthma and eczema, a weakened immune system, depression and less success in school. Mom, Dad, you can make sure that doesn’t happen! Skip the drive- thru, learn to cook together and give your kids a head start on a healthier, happier future.

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