“More than 50% of the food Americans eat is ultra-processed and making them sick and dead!”— Paul Ebeling
Higher consumption of highly processed foods is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to a new study, and yet they account for 58% of calories in a US diet. Each additional serving increased the risk.
You might not even realize that a food you are eating daily is ultra-processed.
“Ultra-processed foods are ubiquitous and include many foods that are marketed as healthy, such as protein bars, breakfast cereals, and most industrially produced breads,” noted a faculty fellow at the New York University School of Public Health and lead author of the study.
Because people can easily move away from such sugary or fatty fare, heavily processed food “represents a critical target in prevention efforts” to keep Americans healthier, she added.
Consuming foods that are high in salt, saturated/trans fats, refined sugars as well as processed foods can all increase our risk for cardiovascular disease.
The Big Q: What is an ultra-processed food?
The Big A: Ultra-processed foods are industrial formulations made with no or minimal whole foods and produced with additives such as flavorings or preservatives.
Processing foods in factories can remove beneficial nutrients while adding in those that are not, and it also changes the physical structure of food. Eating these foods is linked with being overweight/obese, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
In their study, the group looked at data from a long-running US study that included more than 3,000 middle-aged adults. They averaged just over 53 anni and 33% had a college-level education, 20% of the group had high blood pressure and 6% had diabetes, 67% were former or current smokers, and most were White.
The researchers assessed their diets with a Questionnaire asking about the consumption of certain foods over the prior year.
During an average of 18 yrs of follow-up, study participants had a total of 648 cardiovascular events, including 251 cases of hard cardiovascular disease and 163 cases of hard coronary heart disease, and 713 participants died, including 108 cardiovascular disease deaths.
Participants with the highest intakes of ultra-processed foods had a higher incidence of “cardiovascular events,” such as heart disease and deaths from cardiovascular causes. And there seemed to be a relationship between the amount of processed foods eaten each day, and an individual’s heart risk, the study found.
For example: for each daily serving of ultra-processed food, there was a 7% increase in the risk of “hard” cardiovascular disease (involving an event such as a heart attack), a 5% increase in overall cardiovascular disease, and a 9% increased risk in death from cardiovascular disease.
The study also broke down risks for specific processed foods including bread, ultra-processed meat, salty snack foods and low-calorie soft drinks, all of which appeared to help raise heart risks.
The Big Q2: What can and should be done?
The Big A: According to the authors, “population-wide strategies, such as taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages and other ultra-processed foods, and recommendations regarding processing levels in national dietary guidelines are needed to reduce the intake of ultra-processed foods.“
Americans have gotten further and further away from Real foods.
America has become a society that accepts food additives that people cannot pronounce or explain, foods that mimic other foods, foods that are reduced to a shadow of the original product. The consumers do not Question, they grab for the ease of getting their next meal.
A silver lining of VirusCasedemic lockdowns is the resurgence of the family meal, and a return by many to home cooking using Real food ingredients.
People can take a lesson from these chaotic times, where they are forced to stay inside and think about their eating habits without as many outside distractions, even social media tempts us to bake our own bread, roast our own veggies, brew our own coffee.
A great tip when shopping for food is to shop the perimeter of the super market, because located within center aisles will be canned, packaged and processed foods, while the outer perimeter of the stores feature fresh foods.
Look at the food label: when looking at the food label the ingredient list tell us exactly what is in the item you may be about to eat. The ingredient list is written in order of the highest ingredient quantity to the lower ingredient quantity. When reading the list if an item is made with many non-beneficial ingredients/nutrient, processed/refined sugars and food additives, it may not be the best option.
Back to Basics: Consumers need to go back to their parents’ and grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ days. And to prioritize, putting their health 1st. They need to make the preparation and consumption of Real food a pleasure, and a fun activity, not than a chore
We do not lose by eating healthy, but falling for the lure of ultra-processed foods may lead to consequences we may not be able to recover from. So, avoid all Junk foods.
The findings were published 22 March in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively