The 'It' word these days is Protein. I see it dotted about all over packaging in the supermarkets right now - even in the confectionery aisle.
So does this mean that chocolate bars give you muscles and keep you fuller for longer? Unfortunately not. This is often products packaged in shiny new ways, where food manufacturers use (or abuse?) nutritional information to make their products more appealing, or adapt their recipes to adhere to UK labelling laws. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!
In the UK, manufacturers have to follow certain rules in order to make health claims, such as 'source of protein' or 'high in protein'. For the former, this claim can only be made where at least 12% of the energy value (i.e. kilojoules/kilocalories) of the food is provided by protein. For a product to be high in protein, at least 20% of the kilojoules/kilocalories have to be provided by protein.
You may have recently heard of ultra-processed foods and their link to cancer in the news, so what is this all about?
Researchers from the French Research Institute have been studying the diet, activity, health status and other factors of 160,000 participants since 2009. This study found that when we increase our consumption of ultra-processed foods by 10%, this increases our risk of cancer by more than 10%. This data also took into account factors such as genetically-related incidents of cancer, so points the finger firmly at ultra-processed foods as the cause.
So what is an ultra-processed food? NOVA classifies food according to how they have been processed and these fall into four categories:
Unprocessed and minimally processed, e.g. raw fruit, bagged salads, cut meat, roasted nuts, frozen and canned vegetables
Processed culinary ingredients, e.g. salt, sugar, butter, vegetable oils
Processed foods, e.g. a fruit compote with added sugar, canned vegetables with added salt