Consumption of ultra-processed foods increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers compared processed food intake with cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality in participants from the Framingham Offspring Cohort. For every additional daily serving of processed foods, such as ice cream, hot dogs, and doughnuts, there was an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and death from heart disease by as much as 9%. Possible mechanisms for the increased heart disease risk include higher consumption of trans fats, sugar, and sodium and lower intakes of potassium, cardioprotective nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, and dietary fiber in diets high in processed foods, as well as changes to gut microbiota. Previous research also links processed food consumption with increased energy intake and obesity. These findings and a corresponding commentary support minimizing processed food intake for disease prevention through policy reform.
Ostfeld R, Allen KE. Ultra-processed foods and cardiovascular disease: where do we go from here? J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021;77(12):1532-1534. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2021.02.003