BBC doctor's warning over 'health' foods as they can lead to weight gain and heart disease

Dr Xand van Tulleken
-Credit: (Image: BBC)

Dr Xand van Tulleken is sounding the alarm on the risks of seeking extra protein through certain foods, highlighting that while our bodies can't store protein like fats or carbs, it's crucial to choose high-quality sources.

However, he cautions against being swayed by products boasting added protein, as they're often ultra-processed and could negate any potential health benefits. Such foods are usually packed with ingredients not commonly found in household kitchens, including preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners, and artificial colours and flavours.

The consumption of these ultra-processed items, which are typically high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, can displace more nutritious options in our diet. Shockingly, over half of the calories consumed in the UK are from ultra-processed foods.

"People talk about good-quality protein but that is a less-important question. What is more important is 'what is the food itself that is has been added to? '" Dr Xand emphasised during his appearance on BBC's Morning Live.

"Very often, the foods with added protein are ultra-processed foods, so they have lots of other funny ingredients in so they are pre-pared and wrapped in plastic. Often they have these health claims or implied health claims saying 'full of protein' as if it is a good thing.", reports the Mirror.

"A pattern of eating ultra-processed food is associated not only with weight gain, but all kinds of dietary ill health gut problems, heart disease, diabetes: a whole range of different things. The more that has been done to it in a factory, the less healthy it probably is."

We need protein every day to live
We need protein every day to live -Credit:Getty Images

He pointed out that natural yoghurt is beneficial for health and a good source of protein, but many varieties on the market have sweeteners, colours and thickeners added.

While consuming one occasionally might not be harmful, he warned that regular consumption could lead to adverse health effects. Protein requirements vary from 41.2g to 53.3g depending on age and gender.

"Proteins are made of chains of amino acids and they do all kinds of different jobs in our bodies. We are about 20 per cent protein," Dr Xand explained. "Your protein is doing everything from building muscles to blood vessels to brain cells, all kinds of connective tissue, all sorts of different jobs in your body."

"You can store fat, you can store some carbohydrate but you can't store protein, you just use it for things. So you need to have a fairly consistent daily intake."

The NHS has highlighted beans, pulses, fish, eggs, and meat as top sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, they also advise Brits to cut down on red and processed meats such as bacon, ham, and sausages.

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