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Here are the ultraprocessed foods you should avoid, according to 30 years of research

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According to a 30-year study, eating ultraprocessed foods is associated with an earlier risk of death — but different foods have different effects.

Ultraprocessed foods are “ingredients that are never or rarely used in kitchens, or classes of additives intended to make the final product tastier or more attractive.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Those ingredients — found in sodas, chips, packaged soups, nuggets and ice cream — can include preservatives against mold or bacteria, artificial coloring, emulsifiers to stop separation, and added or modified sugar, salt and fat to make food more appealing. .

Processed meats and sugary foods and drinks are not associated with the same risks as ultraprocessed whole grains, for example, said lead study author Dr. Mingyang Chang, associate professor of clinical epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health.

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The study analyzed data from more than 100,000 healthcare professionals in the United States without a history of cancer, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. From 1986 to 2018, participants provided information about their health and lifestyle every two years.

Every four years, they completed a comprehensive dietary questionnaire.

The group that ate the least amount of processed food ate an average of three servings per day, while the highest ate an average of seven servings per day. The study was published Wednesday in the journal BMJ.

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The data showed that binge eaters had a 4% higher risk of death from any cause, including a 9% higher risk of neurodegenerative deaths.

Adam Höglund/iStockphoto/Getty Images

According to a new study, meats have been shown to have a greater impact on the risk of death than many types of ultraprocessed foods.

Song described the link as “modest,” noting that the link was not equally strong across all types of ultraprocessed foods.

“The positive association is mainly driven by certain subgroups, including processed meat and sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages,” he said.

The study’s findings are consistent with hundreds of others in the field, but what makes it unique is the differentiation from different subgroups within the ultraprocessed food category, said Dr. Marion Nestle, Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Politics. in Public Health from New York University.

Song doesn’t necessarily mean completely rejecting all ultraprocessed foods because it’s a different category, he said.

“Cereals, whole grain breads, for example, are also considered ultraprocessed foods, but they contain a variety of beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals,” he said. “On the other hand, I think people should try to avoid or limit their intake of certain ultraprocessed foods, such as processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and artificially sweetened beverages.”

There are still many questions to be answered when it comes to ultraprocessed foods.

First, the recent study is robust because it covers a longer period of time, but it is an observational study. That means that while researchers can observe a link, they can’t say that the diets are the cause of the deaths, said Dr. Peter Wild, an emeritus fellow at the Quadram Institute for Biosciences in the United Kingdom.

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Researchers should also look more closely at the components of ultraprocessed foods that may affect health. To advise governments and companies on how to regulate foods — food additives, emulsifiers or flavorings, Chang said.

The researchers also found that the most important factor in reducing mortality risk was the quality of a person’s overall diet, Chang said.

“If people maintain a generally healthy diet, I don’t think they need to Be scared or mad,” he said. “Overall diet is still a major determinant of health outcomes.”

A healthy diet is varied, with as many colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains as possible, Wilde said.

Studies show that this diet combined with exercise can reduce dangerous belly fat and more

“If you’re concerned about food additives, choose foods with the least amount of additives,” he said in an email. “Be mindful of the nutritional content of the (ultraprocessed foods) you choose to consume.”

It is also important to know that foods should be eaten in balance. Fruit juice contains beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants when consumed in moderation, but excessive amounts of sugar can outweigh their benefits, Wild said.

“It’s not black and white,” he said. “A particular food is neither good nor bad, it contains elements of both, and the balance between the two depends on how much you eat.”

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