The hidden dangers of processed foods: a closer look at heart health

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We all love the convenience of grabbing a bag of chips or a fast-food burger. But a new study shows that this convenience might come at a high cost: your heart health.

Researchers from New York University have found that eating more ultra-processed foods increases the risk of heart disease and even death.

This study adds more weight to the already growing evidence that we should steer clear of these foods for the sake of our hearts.

What Are Ultra-Processed Foods?

When food gets processed, it often loses its natural nutrients and gains additives or other unhealthy elements. Ultra-processed foods take it a step further by changing the food’s basic structure.

These foods aren’t just bad for our waistlines; they’re also linked to high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 diabetes.

The study looked at data from the Framingham Offspring Study, focusing on middle-aged adults.

Shockingly, more than half of the daily calories in an average American’s diet come from ultra-processed foods, which is a concerning trend that’s on the rise globally.

The Numbers Speak for Themselves

During an 18-year period, the research team followed 3,003 participants who, on average, were 53.5 years old. During this time, there were 713 deaths, including 108 from heart disease.

The study categorized food items into five groups and found some alarming statistics. Those who ate the most ultra-processed foods had higher rates of health issues compared to those who ate the least.

Specifically, every additional serving of ultra-processed food increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 7% and coronary heart disease by 9%.

What’s more, certain types of foods like bread, salty snacks, low-calorie sodas, and processed meats were singled out as particularly bad for heart health.

What Can We Do About It?

Since diet is something we can change to improve our health, it makes sense to focus on it to prevent heart disease. How can we do this? The first step is understanding what’s at stake.

This research tells us that it’s not just one or two processed foods we should avoid; it’s an overall lifestyle choice.

We need to opt for more natural foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, over-processed foods loaded with added sugars and unhealthy fats.

It might seem hard to say no to convenience, but your heart will thank you. So, next time you’re tempted to grab that pack of cookies or bottle of soda, think twice.

Opt for a piece of fruit or a glass of water instead. Small changes like these can make a big difference in your long-term health.

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, meaning it’s worth taking seriously. Protecting your heart health starts with making better food choices, so why not start today?

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and scientists find how COVID-19 damages the heart.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about Aspirin linked to higher risk of heart failure, and results showing this drug could reduce heart disease, fatty liver, obesity.

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