We know for a certain that there is no better alternative to natural foods. The benefits you might entail from them are paramount and more importantly, the resulting side effects are also minimal. Processed or manufactured foods, on the other hand, are frequently loaded with harmful substances that can prove to be unhealthy for the consumer.
That being said, a new study aims at highlighting the consequences of consuming ultra-processed foods in excessive amount. Doing so, while will lead to poor health can also be responsible for early deaths. Which really means that there is a need more than ever to minimize our consumption.
If you aren’t really aware ultra-processed food consists of chicken nuggets, ice-cream and most ready-to-eat meals. The term is used to categorize items based on how much industrial processing they underwent.
Foods that go through the minimum amount of processing are usually classified as “unprocessed or low processed.” Things like fruits, vegetables, seeds and various form of grains fall into this category.
The middle category is called “Processed foods” comprising of items like smoked fish, tinned fruits/vegetables and cheese. Usually, they are processed with salt, oil and sugar to prolong the shelf-life.
The last category is termed “ultra-processed food” getting its name because of the high amount of industrial processing. The processing is done by adding a substantial amount of preservatives, food colours and sweeteners. Perhaps, the best way to classify ultra-processed food is to look for the number of ingredients added. If the number exceeds 5 then the respective items fall under the category. We looked into a few examples at the start of the article. Other food products include instant soup, cake, chocolates and sugary beverages.
What do the studies show?
The findings of the two studies are important to consider in that regard. The first study was concluded by scientists associated with the University of Navarra in Spain. The research accounted for the results of 19,900 participants. Their diet plan and health conditions were noted for over a period of ten years. The results showed that a diet characterized by high amounts of ultra-processed food led to around 335 deaths at the termination of the research.
The other study was carried out by researchers belonging to the University of Paris. The findings considered the data for about 105,000 participants. Similar to the first study, the dietary habits of the participants and resulting health condition were noted. This research showed that excessive consumption of ultra-processed foods was linked with higher risk of cardiovascular illness. Participants were known to suffer from conditions like stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack.
The empirical evidence as put forward by the two studies have great relevance in the field of medical science. People are known to unknowingly consume ultra-processed foods without ever considering the side effects that tag along. For sure, ready-to-eat items seem convenient to eat and are much tastier at times. Yet this in no way should mean to overlook the resulting consequences.
Although, more research data is needed to arrive at a comprehensive conclusion, suffice to say it is important to minimize our consumption of ultra-processed foods.