Study Presented At ESC Congress 2021 Says That Ultra-Processed Foods Are Responsible For Increased Risk Of Heart Issues!
Based on a meta-analysis of data from the ATTICA study, researchers from Harokopio University of Athens have found that ultra-processed foods are responsible for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study team presented the research findings during the ongoing ESC Congress 2021 (European Society of Cardiology Congress 2021) and said that weekly consumption of ultra-processed food is linked with an increased risk of heart disease. https://www.escardio.org/Congress-Home
are foods that go through multiple processes (extrusion, molding, milling, etc.) and contain many added ingredients, and are highly manipulated. They include foods that have been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition with fortifying, preserving or preparing in different ways. The most heavily processed foods often are pre-made meals including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners. Other examples are soft drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, ice-cream, sweetened breakfast cereals, packaged soups, hotdogs and fries. Also included are mass produced bread, all types of ready meals, fast foods, sweets and desserts, salty snacks, reconstituted meat including chicken and fish nuggets, instant noodles and soups, tinned vegetables with added salt, sugar-coated dried fruit, sodas and sweetened beverages.
For a long time, limited information exists on the relationship of these products with heart attacks and strokes.
This research examined the association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and developing, or dying from, cardiovascular disease over a 10-year period.
The meta-analysis used data from the ATTICA prospective study, which was conducted during 2001-2012 in Greece.
This study enrolled adults free of cardiovascular disease at baseline who were asked about the frequency and portion sizes of a range of foods and beverages consumed during the previous seven days. The researchers also used a questionnaire to assess level of adherence to a heart healthy dietary pattern, i.e. the Mediterranean diet, which emphasises fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Participants were assigned a score of 0 to 55 (higher values mean better adherence).
Study participants were followed up for 10 years for the occurrence of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events including heart attack, unstable angina, stroke, heart failure and heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias).
The ATTICA study included 2,020 participants, of whom 1,014 were women and 1,006 were men. The average age was 45 years. On average, participants consumed approximately 15 servings of ultra-processed foods per week.
It was found that during the 10-year follow up there were 317 cardiovascular events. The incidence of c
ardiovascular events was progressively higher as ultra-processed food consumption rose. With an average weekly consumption of 7.5, 13, and 18 servings, the incidence of cardiovascular disease was 8.1%, 12.2%, and 16.6%, respectively.
Alarmingly each additional weekly serving of ultra-processed food was associated with a 10% higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease within the decade (hazard ratio [HR] per additional weekly serving=1.10; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-1.21; p=0.04).
This association was reassessed according to adherence to a Mediterranean diet. The aggravating role of ultra-processed foods became even stronger in participants with a low level of adherence to this dietary pattern. In those with a Mediterranean diet score less than 27, each additional weekly serving of ultra-processed food was associated with a 19% higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease within the decade (HR per additional weekly serving=1.19; 95% CI 1.12-1.25; p=0.02).
In was found that in those with a moderate to high level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet (score above 27), each additional weekly serving of ultra-processed food was associated with an 8% higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease within 10 years - but the association was no longer significant (HR per additional weekly serving=1.08; 95% CI 0.98-1.19; p=0.09).
Study author, Dr Matina Kouvari, from Harokopio University of Athens-Greece told media, “Evidence is accumulating for an association between ultra-processed foods and increased risks of several chronic diseases. Our study suggests that the detrimental relationship with cardiovascular disease is even stronger in those with a generally unhealthy diet. Public health initiatives and nutrition policies are needed to promote nutritious food choices while for individuals, limiting ultra-processed food intake seems sensible."
There were also a lot of other studies that branched out from the main ATTICA study that had interesting findings as well.
One for instance, one showed the effects of various dairy foods on cardiovascular health. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32988722/
Another showed the benefits of plant diets in preventing diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5734225/
For more about Diets and Cardiovascular Health
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