Posted on Nov 12, 2019, 4 p.m.
Unfortunately most Americans get more than 50% of their daily calories from ultra processed foods, measures of heart health decreases as ultra processed food consumption continues to rise, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019; and along with it so does the rate of obesity follow the increase.
For every 5% increase in calories from ultra processed foods that a person ate researchers at the US CDC found there was a corresponding decrease in overall cardiovascular health; adults who consumed about 70% of their calories from ultra processed foods were half as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health compared to those who consumed 40% or less of their calories from ultra processed foods.
Ultra processed foods are those made entirely or mostly from substances extracted from foods such as starches, added sugar, modified starch, fats, hydrogenated fats, engineered compounds, and other compounds including cosmetic additives such as artificial colours, emulsifiers, and flavours. Examples of ultra processed foods include fake or imitation meat, processed meats, nuggets, soft drinks, packaged salty snacks, cakes, cookies, powdered and packaged instant soups and many items marketed as convenience foods.
"Healthy diets play an important role in maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels," said Zefeng Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the CDC. "Eating ultra-processed foods often displaces healthier foods that are rich in nutrients, like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, which are strongly linked to good heart health. In addition, ultra-processed foods are often high in salt, added sugars, saturated fat and other substances associated with increasing the risk of heart disease."
Data was used from the NHANES study collected between 2011-2016, reviewing results from 13,466 adults aged 20+ who answered questions regarding their cardiovascular health and completed a 24 hour dietary recall. Cardiovascular health was defined as measures of healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose, abstaining from tobacco products, good nutrition, healthy BMI, and adequate physical activity.
"This study underscores the importance of building a healthier diet by eliminating foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages, cookies, cakes and other processed foods," said Donna Arnett, Ph.D., past-president of the American Heart Association and dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. "There are things you can do every day to improve your health just a little bit. For example, instead of grabbing that loaf of white bread, grab a loaf of bread that's whole grain or wheat bread. Try replacing a hamburger with fish once or twice a week. Making small changes can add up to better heart health."
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.