Ultra-processed Foods, Mortality, Junk food, Health

New Study Links Ultra-Processed Foods To Increased Risk Of Stroke And Cognitive Decline

Ultra-processed foods include everything from candy and store-bought ice cream to cereal, fries, and canned soup, among popular snacks.

A new study suggests that the consumption of ultra-processed foods can not only increase a person’s chance of experiencing a stroke but is also said to be responsible for cognitive decline.

Foods like chips, soda, hot dogs, and more have been known to cause health conditions like diabetes, depression, and even death. The new study, which followed more than 30,000 participants over the age of 45 for an average of 11 years, adds to the previous research, noting that the increased risk of a stroke and cognitive impairment is higher when eating those aforementioned ultra-processed foods, Forbes reports.

While processed foods are foods changed from their natural states through the addition of ingredients like salt, sugar, or oil, ultra-processed foods are generally created from extracted substances, including fats, added sugars, and starches. Examples include candy and store-bought ice cream, cereal, fries, and canned soup, among popular snacks.

When it comes to the risk they pose to humans, processed foods, despite being altered, aren’t necessarily dangerous to human health. These include packaged bread, cheese, canned beans, tofu, and canned tuna. Foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, nuts, whole grains, and eggs are considered unprocessed foods, which are whole foods that contain a minimal amount of added ingredients.

Researchers chose 14,175 participants to study for cognitive decline and another 20,243 to follow around stroke. People from both groups had no prior history of either medical condition. By the end of the research period, 768 people were diagnosed with cognitive impairment, and 1,108 had a stroke by the end of the study.

“Participants who ate 10% more ultra-processed foods had a 16% greater risk of developing cognitive impairment, while those who ate more unprocessed and whale foods had a 12% decline in risk,” said the study, which was published Wednesday (May 22) in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. 

People who conducted the study and identified as Black were the most at risk among those who ate high amounts of ultra-processed foods and had a 15% increased risk of stroke during the research period.

At this time, ultra-processed foods make up almost 58% of total calories consumed by Americans and are their main source of food. The subsistence also contributes to nearly 90% of the energy that Americans receive from added sugars.