While we may be biased on the topic—we have a firm belief that British food is simply…better than its counterparts which are often full of processed food and ingredients. For example, while American food may be known for having bigger portions, British food usually has the US when it comes to the “better” health option.
All About the Less Processed British Food
In 2019, the George Institute for Global Health named British food as having the healthiest packaged food and drinks in the world. The survey looked at how much salt, sugar and saturated fats were in these food and drink items and found the Britain’s foods were not only healthier but had far fewer artificial ingredients.
These ultra-processed foods may not seem like a huge deal, but they are linked with a number of health issues including obesity and related health problems. The U.K. even has its own “American food aisle” that is filled with US-products that most people deem the “junk food aisle.” This is where you will find most of the sugary, sweet processed foods that typically methan 50 don’t make shop it in the average British family’s carts.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some foods in Britain filled with artificial chemicals and additives or that everyone shouldn’t be looking at the food labels of anything they are about to grab in the grocery aisle. Over processed foods can end up anywhere—even in the U.K.
Surprising Differences in the “Same” items
We’ve all seen the “eat this not that” match-up that compares different fast foods to let you know which is secretly healthier for you. The same thing applies to American food vs. British food—even with brands and foods that may seem the same on the outside.
McDonald’s French Fries
It is easy to think that McDonald’s is just the same unhealthy McDonald’s wherever you go—but did you know that in Britain, McDonald’s fries are actually healthier and less processed than their American counterparts? While McDonald’s fries in the United States have extras like “natural beef flavor” and sodium acid pyrophosphate, not to mention oils with anti-foaming agent dimethylpolysiloxane in them, in the U.K. fries are just potatoes, oil, dextrose and salt and have a fraction of the added ingredients that McDonald’s fries do.
Speaking of French fries… the ketchup in Britain is quite different as well. Who doesn’t love dipping their fries in some Heinz ketchup? However, when you enjoy delicious Heinz in the UK you are getting a product that is made simply with tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, spice and herbs.
In the United States, that same formula has additives like “tomato concentrate,” and high fructose corn syrup in it instead.
Quaker Oats may seem like a healthy and hearty breakfast, but if you are eating the U.S. version of Quaker’s Strawberries and Cream, you are also eating a lot of extra processed items like artificial dye Red 40, citric acid and “artificial strawberry flavor.”
British Packaged Food Tops Global Health Survey
“Globally we’re all eating more and more processed foods and that’s a concern because our supermarkets shelves are full of products that are high in bad fats, sugar and salt and are potentially making us sick.” said Dr. Elizabeth Dunford lead author of the George Institute study. “Our results show that some countries are doing a much better job than others.” While British food ranked as the most healthy, co-author Professor Bruce Neal said, “With packaged foods progressively dominating the world’s food supply there was real cause for concern.”