‘Ultra-processed’ foods linked to cardiovascular disease and death

Ultra-processed’ foods linked to cardiovascular disease and death – study

For every 10 deaths involving people who consumed low amounts of ultra-processed food, there were 16 deaths among people who ate at least four ultra-processed foods a day.

We tend to view foods in two categories: "processed" and "unprocessed".

A new batch of research highlights a number of health risks linked to eating ultra-processed foods, which include things like soda, chips, packaged candies, and many other frequently consumed food products.

No conclusive causal effect was observed in the studies, but the results raise further concern about the health outcomes of high processed food consumption.

A 10% increase in the proportion of "ultra-processed" food in the diet was linked with a 12% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, 13% increase for coronary heart disease and 11% for cerebrovascular diseases, affecting the blood supply to the heart and brain, the study found.

Between 1999 and 2014, researchers for the study checked in with almost 20,000 participants between the ages of 20 and 91 every two years.

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They assessed more than 105,000 French adults (the majority of whom were women) with an average age of 43. Fiber levels are often low, contributing to the overall health risks previously linked to these ultra-processed products.

The solution? Eat fresh where possible, and avoid ultra-processed foods where you can.

In the second study, researchers in Spain found those eating more than four servings of ultra-processed foods per day were associated with a 62 per cent higher risk of death compared with those eating two daily servings. Adding additional daily servings increased the death risk by 18-percent.

While both studies found positive links, they were observational and did not establish causality.

Ultra-processed foods are items containing substantial factory processing. These results remained statistically significant after adjustment for several markers of the nutritional quality of the diet (saturated fatty acids, sodium and sugar intakes, dietary fibre, or a healthy dietary pattern derived by principal component analysis) and after a large range of sensitivity analyses. However both studies suggested that policy makers should place greater emphasis on promoting the "availability, affordability and accessibility of unprocessed or minimally processed foods".

On the back of the research, Professor Bes-Rastrollo, from the University of Navarra, said: "Measures like taxation and marketing restrictions on ultra-processed foods to discourage consumption [should be considered]".



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