More and more evidence that ultra-processed foods can harm your health

Health

Previous research has shown that consuming high-quality processed foods such as packaged snacks and soda can damage your health. Two new studies confirm this concept and show the risks associated with cardiovascular disease and all causes of death.
A number of studies combine the high consumption of ultra-processed foods with an increased risk of chronic diseases.

Cancer, type 2 diabetes, celiac disease and multiple sclerosis are just a few consequences of eating processed foods.

Some studies also show that eating processed meat increases the risk of premature death.

Two studies published in BMJ support the idea that processed foods can endanger human health.

One study discussed the risk of adverse cardiovascular events, while others examined the risk of death for all causes.

Cardiovascular risk of processed foods

Bernard Srour from the Sorbonne Center for Epidemiology and Statistics at the Paris Cité, France, is the lead author of the first study.

Srour and colleagues explored the relationship between consumption of ultra-processed foods and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers studied 105,159 adults who participated in the NutriNet-Santé study, one of the largest nutrition and health studies in the world.

Participants were 43 years old, on average and above all women (79%). They completed six questionnaires that examined their dietary habits within 24 hours by choosing from a list of 3,300 articles.

Teams classify foods based on their “processing level.” Srour and his colleagues identified ultra-processed foods that contain many ingredients used exclusively for industrial use, but which consumers consider “safe, comfortable and delicious”.

Ultra-processed foods “often have high fat content, saturated fat, with the addition of sugar, energy density, and salt along with lower fiber and vitamin densities,” the study authors explained.

Baked foods, snacks, sweet drinks, ready-to-eat foods with dried food and vegetable supplements are some examples of ultra-processed foods.

In the study, Srour and the team tracked participants clinically for a decade between 2009 and 2018.

The results show that 10% more processed food is consumed by each participant, reducing risk:

  • cardiovascular disease increased by 12%
  • Coronary heart disease increases 13%
  • Cerebrovascular disease increased by 11%

On the other hand, those who only ate minimal processed foods or not processed had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Scientists have relatively calculated cardiovascular risk, ie they compared the cardiovascular risk of those who consumed more processed foods than those who consumed less.

“Processing factors, such as the composition of nutrients from the final product, additives, contact ingredients and loose contaminants, can play a role in this sanitary napkin,” he advised, adding that more research was needed.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), every third of deaths from cardiovascular disease occur in the United States.

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