Despite the fact that their low nutritional value could already be considered a fundamental factor in itself, the truth is that the main reason for abandoning ultra-processed foods is that they increase the risk of death.
Unfortunately, ultra-processed foods have reached the shelves of supermarkets and our pantries to stay. Whether it is because of its taste, for economic reasons or as a consequence of a lifestyle that rarely allows us a break to put our culinary skills into practice, the truth is that they represent an easy and very recurrent solution.
But we must bear in mind that we are talking about industrial preparations made from substances derived from other foods that include long lists of additives (preservatives, colorants, sweeteners or flavor enhancers), with very little nutritional value, that are rich in fats, sugar or salt and obviously provide a huge amount of calories.
In fact, an investigation by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the USA, published in the prestigious journal ‘Cell Metabolism’, shows that regular consumption of ultra-processed foods causes considerable weight gain and increases the risk of suffering from certain metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.
Specifically, the American study concludes that those people whose diet was based on ultra-processed foods ate an average of 500 calories more in relation to the control group and the weight gain was 1 kilogram, precisely the amount of weight lost by those who ate during the study minimally processed foods. In other words, the difference between adhering to one diet or the other was two kilos in just two weeks.
Weight gain… and risk of death
But beyond the weight problem, which obviously has important implications, recent research, published in the ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’, ensures that people who abuse ultra-processed foods have a 26 percent higher risk of death from any cause and 58 percent of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers, belonging to the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of the IRCCS Neuromed (Italy), took into account the data of more than 22,000 subjects, whose eating habits, based on the NOVA international classification, and health status were analyzed for more than 8 years.
“People who consume large amounts of these foods have a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases,” explains Augusto Di Castelnuovo, one of those responsible for the study, which delves into the possible causes that turn ultra-processed foods into real bombs of watchmaking.
“According to our analyses, excess sugar plays a role, but it represents only 40% of the increased risk of death. One of our hypotheses is the important role that industrial processing itself plays in the equation, capable of inducing profound changes in the structure and composition of the nutrients”, concludes the expert.