Stop Everything – Beans On Toast Is Actually Good For You

Well that's a pleasant surprise.
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Don't demonise beans on toast – it's not actually that bad for you.

It seems we’re all getting a little more health-conscious, with 33% of people trying to reduce the ultra-processed foods in their diet, according to a survey by the charity British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).

This is up from 25% of people cutting down on such foods in 2021. 

Ultra-processed foods – or UPFs for short – are made by industrial processing and often contain additives such as colours, flavours, emulsifiers or preservatives.

Studies have previously found eating more of them is bad for our health.

But not all ultra-processed foods are bad news

The charity emphasises that while some UPFs are unhealthy – think pizzas, cakes, ice creams, and sweets – there are many that can still be great sources of important nutrients.

In fact, if you are regularly tucking into wholemeal toast, baked beans, fish fingers or ready-made pasta sauces, rest assured that these can still be part of a healthy diet and there’s no shame in relying on these processed foods. 

Bridget Benelam, a BNF spokesperson, explained: “For many of us when we get home after a busy day, foods like baked beans, wholemeal toast, fish fingers or ready-made pasta sauces are an affordable way to get a balanced meal on the table quickly.

“These may be classed as ultra-processed but can still be part of a healthy diet.”

She’s right. Baked beans count towards your five-a-day – and you can even buy reduced-salt and reduced-sugar versions from the supermarket. 

Beans and bread (particularly wholemeal options) are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, according to fitness and nutrition coach Paul Stokes. Beans also contain B vitamins and minerals including magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese.

Fish fingers obviously contain fish, which is a great source of omega-3, as well as protein and minerals. 

The only major downside is that they are high in fats and carbohydrates due to their coating, say nutritionists at Eat Drink Live Well. Because of this, they recommend serving them with a variety of vegetables rather than chips. 

You don’t always have to cook from scratch

Of course, for the health conscious, preparing meals from scratch is always the ideal solution and means there’s minimal food processing involved but, for many, this just isn’t an affordable or practical choice. 

Benelam herself stated that as a working parent, cooking from scratch “isn’t always an option” and reassures that “choosing healthier processed foods is one way that can help people fit healthy eating into their lives”.

Well there you have it.