If you typically consume foods like chips and soda, your heart may be in trouble. Find out why ultra-processed foods don’t work for your heart.
It’s no surprise that foods like chips, soda, and cookies are not good for you, but new studies may convince you to avoid these foods altogether. According to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ultra-processed foods can negatively impact your heart health.
The study’s findings were available at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the study, 13,446 adults who were 20 years of age or older completed a 24-hour dietary recall and answered questions about their heart health. The information for this survey, called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), is from 2011 and 2016.
Ultra-Processed Foods and Your Heart
According to the study, for every 5% increase in calories from ultra-processed foods, there was a decrease in overall heart health. Moreover, if 70% of a participant’s calories came from ultra-processed foods, then they were half as likely to have “ideal” heart health.
Ultra-processed foods include those that contain artificial flavors, colors, or emulsifiers. They are also made entirely (or mostly) from substances extracted from foods like hydrogenated fats, starches, fats, added sugar, and more. Some examples include cookies, chicken nuggets, soft drinks, salty snacks, and cakes.
“Healthy diets play an important role in maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels,” said Zefeng Zhang, MD, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the CDC. “Eating ultra-processed foods often displaces healthier foods that are rich in nutrients, like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, which [have a strong connection to] good heart health.”
Quality vs. Quantity
While studies like this may provide clues about food and heart health, food diaries and interviews have their limitations. “We need more studies that actually feed people ultra-processed foods to see if they raise blood pressure, cholesterol, or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” said Bonnie F. Liebman, MS, director of nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
According to Liebman, there was one such study by the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Its results show that people ate more calories and gained weight when they ate ultra-processed foods instead of the unprocessed kind.
If you want to take care of your heart health, then you don’t necessarily have to completely avoid ultra-processed foods. However, you should be doing more food prep and cooking at home while also emphasizing vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
Moreover, you can give your heart an extra boost by exercising regularly and taking supplements like L-arginine Plus. As a heart supplement, its ingredients effectively promote circulation, blood pressure health, cholesterol health, and more. Give your heart the support it deserves by eating unprocessed foods and taking L-arginine Plus.