NYS Certified Nutritionist

Ultra-Processed Foods Present Health Risk

An article in the European Heart Journal’s November 2021 issue described a study of the diets of people who had already had one heart attack or stroke.

As the patients were followed over time, it was noticed that an increased risk of a second, more likely to be fatal, heart attack or stroke was associated with a substantial intake of “UPF,” [Ultra-Processed Foods]. These “foods” are made in part, or entirely, of manufactured ingredients like hydrogenated fats, dyes, and preservatives…ingredients not normally used by home cooks in their own kitchens.

Those who consumed the greatest amount of these artificial ingredients had a two-thirds higher risk of a fatal second heart attack or stroke, and a 40% increase in all-cause mortality, as compared to those who ate them infrequently.

This article is a reminder that we can influence our risk of unwanted health outcomes. Reading nutrition and ingredient labels on packaging can reveal hidden risks. Avoiding trans fats, hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and preservatives- while reducing our intake of saturated fats- would be a very good start.

Many canned, frozen, and packaged prepared foods are free of those unwanted ingredients, and are safe to eat as part of a risk reduction plan. Selecting prepared foods wisely puts us in control of our own health, while giving us the convenience we often want and need.

Dateline: Latham, Albany County, New York