Minimally processed foods are more satiating and less hyperglycemic than ultra-processed foods: a preliminary study with 98 ready-to-eat foods
Beyond nutritional composition, food structure is increasingly recognized to play a role in food health potential, notably in satiety and glycemic responses. Food structure is also highly dependent on processing conditions. The hypothesis for this study is, based on a data set of 98 ready-to-eat foods, that the degree of food processing would correlate with the satiety index (SI) and glycemic response. Glycemic response was evaluated according to two indices: the glycemic index (GI) and a newly designed index, the glycemic glucose equivalent (GGE). The GGE indicates how a quantity of a certain food affects blood glucose levels by identifying the amount of food glucose that would have an effect equivalent to that of the food. Then, foods were clustered within three processing groups based on the international NOVA classification: (1) raw and minimally processed foods; (2) processed foods; and (3) ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed foods are industrial formulations of substances extracted or derived from food and additives, typically with five or more and usually many (cheap) ingredients. The data were correlated by nonparametric Spearman's rank correlation coefficient on quantitative data. The main results show strong correlations between GGE, SI and the degree of food processing, while GI is not correlated with the degree of processing. Thus, the more food is processed, the higher the glycemic response and the lower its satiety potential. The study suggests that complex, natural, minimally and/or processed foods should be encouraged for consumption rather than highly unstructured and ultra-processed foods when choosing weakly hyperglycemic and satiating foods.