Julia Belluz writing for Vox:
In two new papers published in the BMJ, the more ultraprocessed — or industrially manufactured — foods a person ate, the more likely they were to get sick and even die. In one study, they were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems. The other linked an ultraprocessed diet to a higher risk of death from all causes.
Those studies followed a first-of-its-kind randomized controlled trial, out of the National Institutes of Health: Researchers found people following an ultraprocessed diet ate about 500 more calories per day than those consuming minimally processed, whole foods.
Sure, potato chips, cookies, and hot dogs are chock-full of salt, sugar, fat, and calories. They can cause us to gain weight and put us at a higher risk of diseases such as diabetes and obesity. But why? What if there’s something unique about ultraprocessed foods that primes us to overeat and leads to bad health?
Ultraprocessed foods are created in factories. They’re pumped full of chemicals and other additives for color, flavor, texture, and shelf life. This processing generally increases the flavor and caloric density of the foods, while stripping away the fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. So these foods are distinct from whole foods (like apples and cucumbers) and processed foods (like vegetables pickled in brine, or canned fish in oil) that rely on only salt, sugar, and oil — rather than a range of complicated additives — to preserve them or make them tastier.
By Scott Lear, Simon Fraser University
Still nibbling Valentine’s Day goodies? Munching packaged cereals, pancakes or muffins for breakfast? Enjoying a lunch of processed meats and bread, sweetened pasta sauce, or even a salad drenched in dressing?
Sugar makes all of these foods delicious. It is also an important energy source for our bodies. It’s what we use when we’re doing vigorous activities and it’s the primary source of fuel for our brain. We need it.
The problem is, many of us eat far too much sugar. And we eat it in its simplest, processed form.
This excess of sugar in our diets increases the risks of health conditions such as obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood cholesterol and hypertension.
It also significantly increases the risks of premature death from heart disease.
How our body digests sugar
Our bodies are designed to digest sugar in its naturally occurring form found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In these foods simple sugar molecules are joined together in a chain.
We know that processed foods have been connected to health issues like hypertension and heart disease. Now, researchers are saying processed foods are also associated to increased cancer.
Najja Parker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
European researchers from universities and health institutions recently conducted a study, published in the British Medical Journal, to assess the association between cancer risk and ultra-processed foods.
Ultra-processed foods include packaged breads and snacks; confectionery and desserts; sodas and sweetened drinks; and meat balls, poultry and fish nuggets.