Are you consuming a lot of ultra-processed foods? You should stop immediately. Let’s find out ten ways processed food can lead to early death in this article.
We all know about processed foods, but what about ultra-processed foods? They are easy to find in the grocery store; all you need to do is read the ingredient list on the backside of the packaged item.
You will find fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, colorings, bleaching agents, and other things. These are a few examples of ultra-processed food ingredients. Some people eat a lot of ultra-processed food like ice cream, pizza, burgers, snacks, etc. Are you among them? If yes, then you need to pay attention to your diet.
Highly processed foods are not suitable for your health, and you should avoid them as much as possible. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that ultra-processed foods with preservatives and sugar increase cardiovascular diseases and mortality.
This article discusses ten ways in which processed food lead to early death. Read on to know more about these deadly foods.
What Are Ultra Processed Food?
The term processed food can confuse you because all foods are processed one way or the other. There are mainly two ways in which food is processed. The first one is mechanical processing which involves grinding, heating, pasteurization and does not make your food unhealthy. It includes fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat, and others.
The second one is known as chemical processing which involves the addition of salt, sugar, oil, preservatives, chemicals, refined ingredients, and artificial substances which have less nutrition value.
The chemically processed foods are also known as ultra-processed foods. These foods taste good and are not expensive. That’s why the intake of ultra-processed foods has increased Worldwide. But as these foods contain preservatives, emulsifiers, and other things, they increase the risk of coronary disease, cancer, and others.
I am listing below some examples of ultra-processed food.
- Frozen or readymade meals
- Baked food like pizza, cakes, pastries
- Packaged Bread
- Packaged Cheese
- Instant Noodles
- Instant Soup
- Fish Finger
What Does Research Say About Ultra Processed Foods?
Italian researchers followed 24,325 men and women whose age was 35 years and above for ten years. The researchers concluded that the people who ate a lot of unprocessed foods were at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, and stroke.
Participants in that group consumed 15 percent of their daily calories from the ultra-processed foods, which is equivalent to 2-8 servings of hot dogs, candy bars, soda, and other ultra-processed foods.
The people in that category had 58 percent more likely to have coronary disease than their peers who had at least one serving of ultra-processed food. They also have a 52 percent chance of dying from stroke or cerebrovascular disease. The most common ultra-processed foods in the Italian study were pizza, snacks, cakes, and processed meat.
Other researchers also say that ultra-processed foods are palatable, make you feel more hungry, and promote weight gain.
Research done at New York University analyzed the U.S federal government data and found that consumption of ultra-processed foods in American’s diets rose from 53.5 percent calories (2001-2002) to 57 percent calories(2017-2018). At the same time, consumption of whole foods dropped from 32.7 percent to 27.4 percent of calories.
It indicates that Americans are shifting more towards ultra-processed foods, which is quite concerning. Eating more ultra-processed foods can have high chances of causing obesity, heart diseases, and cancer. This is visible in the growing rates of obesity and heart diseases across America.
You might like to read: Which Saturated Fats Are Good For Health?
What Are Ten Ways In Which Ultra-processed Foods Lead To Early Death?
#1. Ultra-processed Food Contain More Sugar Leading To Heart Diseases And Diabetes
Your body needs glucose to survive. It is the primary source of energy for your body from the food you eat. But ultra-processed food, particularly beverages like soda, contains a lot of sugar and mainly highly fructose corn syrup.
The addition of sugar in soda adds zero nutritional value to the drink. When you start consuming these beverages, your body gets more sugar than it needs and consequently converts it into fatty acids and stores it for future use in adipose fatty cells like thighs, hips, arms, and stomach.
The first noticeable symptom of consuming too much sugar is being overweight. Some research says that even if you are not overweight, a sugar-rich ultra-processed food can increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases, elevated cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
#2. Ultra-processed Foods Are Low In Fiber Leading To Constipation, Obesity, Heart Diseases
Dietary fiber is an essential part of your diet. It can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and help you to satisfy yourself with fewer calories. The dietary fiber even acts as a prebiotic, which means it helps feed the healthy bacteria in your intestine and thus keeps it healthy.
Fiber is also essential in keeping your heart healthy. You find high fiber foods in legumes, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Unfortunately, most of the ultra-processed foods available in the market are low in fiber. The natural fiber is lost during the processing. Your body feels less satisfied after consuming ultra-processed foods because it slows down the absorption of carbohydrates. So you start eating more which leads to obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
#3. Ultra Processed Foods Add Quick Calories Leading To Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, And Obesity
The ultra-processed foods are manufactured so that they are easy to chew and swallow. Most of the fiber is lost in chemical processing. So these foods take less energy to eat and digest than whole foods or less processed foods.
Consequently, you start eating more of these ultra-processed foods in a short duration, leading to obesity and other long-lasting diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
#4. Ultra-processed Foods Are High In Trans Fats Leading To Heart Disease And Diabetes
Ultra-processed foods like cookies, muffins, pies, and cakes are high in trans fats, which are unhealthy and cheap. The manufacturer produces trans fats by adding hydrogen into vegetable oils to make them more solid.
Trans fats can cause inflammation in your body. It elevates low-density protein(LDL) or bad cholesterol and reduces high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. Consequently, it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
#5. Ultra-processed Foods Have High Sodium Content That Leads To Hypertension
Ultra-processed foods like processed meats are high in sodium content to increase shelf life and help in preventing the growth of bacteria and other disease-causing agents. It makes the ultra-processed product look thicker and enhances the color and hue. Additionally, sodium helps retain moisture in processed meat products.
Your body needs a small amount of sodium every day for all your organs to function correctly. But ultra-processed foods high in sodium content can lead to elevated blood pressure, raising the risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, and stroke.
#6. Ultra-processed Foods Have Refined Carbohydrates That Lead To Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease
Carbohydrates are essential for your body because they are the primary energy source to fuel your brain, heart muscles, kidney, and central nervous system. The carbohydrates from whole grains provide more health benefits compared to refined carbohydrates.
The whole grain mainly consists of three layers. The outer layer is bran high in fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. The inner layer is the germ, containing carbs, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The middle layer is the endosperm, which has carbs and a small amount of protein. During the refining process, the bran and germ part of the whole grains are removed, leaving no vitamins and nutrients.
Unfortunately, ultra-processed foods contain refined carbohydrates, low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. For instance, sugar and white flour are present in ultra-processed foods like pizza, French fries, and chocolate, which most people like.
The refined carbohydrates are digested within a short period and have a high glycemic index, which means a rapid increase in blood sugar and insulin level.
When these levels drop, you experience food cravings and low energy, which leads to overeating and obesity. Again, refined carbohydrates increase blood triglyceride levels, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
#7. Ultra-processed Foods Have Artificial Ingredients That Lead To Cancer And Heart Disease
Manufacturers of ultra-processed food add many artificial ingredients to increase its appearance, taste, texture, and freshness.
Sadly, some artificial ingredients can cause deadly diseases like cancer. For instance, nitrites and nitrates found in processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
In 2015 World Health Organization classified processed meat as carcinogenic because of increased research showing a relationship between colorectal cancer and processed meats.
Another artificial ingredient found in ultra-processed foods is Bisphenol A (BPA) which increases the risk of cancer and endocrine disruption.
Now let’s talk about artificial sweeteners, primarily found in ultra-processed foods. They contain zero calories but add sweetness to ultra-processed products.
Many studies show that consuming artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain and a chain in metabolism, which can finally cause hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
#8. Ultra-processed Foods Have Saturated Fat Leads To Heart Disease
Ultra-processed foods like candy, frozen meals, and ice cream are manufactured with saturated fats like rich crude palm oil and palm kernel oil. These oils are mainly used because of their fragrance and enhanced texture to butter. Apart from it, these oils are low cost and increase the product’s shelf life.
But eating ultra-processed food rich in saturated fat can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The American Heart Association recommends consuming 5-6 percent of calories from saturated fat. For instance, if you need 2000 calories in a day, 120 calories should come from saturated fat, 13 grams of saturated fat per day.
#9. Ultra Processed Fats Disturbs Sleep Leading to Heart Disease
Digesting refined carbohydrates can fluctuate the sugar level in the blood, which disturbs your sleep at night. Remember, a stable insulin level leads to proper sleep; otherwise, you will have an increased risk of heart diseases, depression, and anxiety.
#10. Ultra Processed Foods Have Less Nutritive Value Leading To Heat Problems
Ultra-processed foods have ingredients that have less nutritional value. So after consuming this food, your body will not get enough vitamins which increases the risk of diabetes and heart problems.
You might like to read: How to Manage Sodium in your Diet for a Healthy Heart
Alternatives To Ultra Processed Food
Ultra-processed food increases your risk of early death by causing dreadful diseases like cancer, heart problems, diabetes, and others. So, it’s best to substitute ultra-processed foods with homemade foods. Additionally, you need to eat fresh fruits and vegetables to increase your lifespan.
I have listed some of the alternatives of ultra-processed food which you can add to your diet.
Cereals and oats are cheap, healthy, and perfect for morning breakfast. You can soak the oats either in water or milk overnight to reduce the cooking time.
#2. Make Your Own Sauce
You can avoid pasta sauce and prefer to make your sauce at home. Fry some chopped onions in olive oil until they soften. Then add some chopped tomatoes and splash some vinegar. Season it with salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Your homemade sauce is ready.
#3. Prefer To Have Home Made PopCorn
Homemade popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can have in the evening. It is loaded with fiber and aids you in fighting constipation.
Youngsters are exposed to readymade meals and ultra-processed foods because they are easy to prepare and digest, look attractive, and are cheap. But unfortunately, these foods do not have any nutritional value and are low in fiber content, leading to deadly diseases like stroke and cancer.
So it’s best to avoid as much as possible. You can spend some time in the kitchen and prepare your meals with fresh fruits and vegetables to increase your lifespan.
We hope this article has given you helpful information about the role of ultra-processed food in poor health. Please don’t forget to share this article with others searching for this information on your social media handles and in your groups. You can ask us any queries related to processed food in the comment section; we will try to answer all the queries to the best of our ability.