The hidden risks of ultra-processed foods: a threat to heart health

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Understanding Processed Foods

Researchers from New York University have discovered that consuming more ultra-processed foods is tied to a higher risk of heart disease and death.

With every extra serving of these foods consumed daily, the risk increases further. This research adds to the growing proof that our hearts can benefit from cutting down on ultra-processed foods.

The findings of this study were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Processed foods are altered from their natural state for safety reasons or convenience. But when foods undergo heavy processing, they might lose good nutrients and gain bad ones.

They may also contain unhealthy food additives. Eating lots of these ultra-processed foods has been linked to problems like obesity, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 diabetes.

The Research: Processed Foods and Heart Disease

The scientists used data from a previous study called the Framingham Offspring Study. They wanted to see how ultra-processed foods could affect heart health.

The study involved 3,003 adults who were about 53.5 years old on average. About 5.8% of them had diabetes, and 19% had high blood pressure.

The team divided the foods recorded in the questionnaire into five categories. Over an average follow-up period of 18 years, 713 of the participants died, including 108 from heart disease.

Increased Risks with Ultra-Processed Foods

The scientists found that those participants who ate the most ultra-processed foods faced higher health risks than those who ate the least amount of these foods.

Each additional daily serving of ultra-processed food was linked to a 7% increase in the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and a 9% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease.

Foods like bread, salty snack foods, low-calorie soft drinks, and ultra-processed meat were found to increase the risk of heart disease and death.

The Prevalence of Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods make up more than half of the daily calories in the average American diet. And, more and more people around the world are eating these foods.

Since an unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for heart disease that can be changed, it should be a key focus of efforts to prevent heart disease.

This research highlights the importance of making healthier food choices for maintaining heart health.

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