Two recent studies, one in France and one in Spain, looked into the association of processed foods and health outcomes. The first study conducted in France followed over 100,000 participants for over 5 years and looked into daily dietary records of participants, hoping to find connections between ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular, coronary heart, and cerebrovascular disease. The second study from Spain followed about 20,000 participants for 15 years, looking to find associations between ultra-processed food intake and risk of death from any cause.
Both studies used similar definitions for "ultra-processed foods." This included mass produced foods and beverages that used either preservatives (salt, sugar, chemicals, such as nitrates, etc.) or industrial processes (hydrogenation, moulding, reshaping, pre-processing, etc.). Both studies found that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods increased risk of adverse health outcomes. In particular, daily diets with ultra-processed foods increased the risk of all-causes of death in the Spanish study and increased the risk of cardiovascular, coronary heart, and cerebrovascular disease in the French study. Researchers from both studies acknowledge that further research is needed, but daily high consumption of processed foods, with additives, sugars, etc., are detrimental to health. The French researchers note that while some public health authorities have already started limiting processed foods and promoting natural un-processed foods, more can be done to prevent risk of adverse health outcomes from these foods.
Interested in lowering your risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular diseases? You may want to consider limiting your intake of processed foods. Be sure to include whole foods in your diet: such as un-processed grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.
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