Ultra-processed foods such as cereals, protein bars, soft drinks, convenience foods and fast food significantly increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, suggest two studies.
During two presentations at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdamresearchers revealed that just a 10% increase in the consumption of these ultra-processed foods (UPF) can significantly increase the risk of heart disease.
It is estimated that in the UK and US in particular, more than half of the average diet now consists of ultra-processed foods, particularly for those who are younger, poorer or from deprived areas , which can sometimes have a plan comprising up to 80% of the UPF.
The first study, carried out by academics at the University of Sydney, followed 10,000 women for 15 years and found that those with the highest proportion of UPF in their diet were 39% more likely to develop high blood pressure than those with the lowest proportion. This was the case even after adjusting for the effects of salt, sugar and fat.
The second study, a meta-analysis of more than 325,000 men and women, showed that those who consumed the most UPF were 24% more likely to suffer cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, strokes cerebral and angina pectoris.
According to a study conducted by the Fourth Military Medical University in Xi’an, China, a daily increase in UPF calorie consumption of 10% was associated with a 6% increased risk of heart disease. Those whose UPF made up less than 15% of their diet were at the lowest risk of heart problems.
Speaking to reporters in Amsterdam, one of the researchers behind the first study, Anushriya Pant of the University of Sydney, said many people were unaware that the foods they considered healthy , such as sandwiches, wraps, soups and store-bought low-fat foods. yogurts, were actually UPF.
“It could be that the foods you consider healthy are actually contributing to the development of your high blood pressure,” The Guardian newspaper reported that Pant said.
Separately, but presented at the same conference, a study suggested that the old adage “laughter is the best medicine” might hold some truth, at least when it comes to heart health.
Laughter causes tissue inside the heart to expand and increases the flow of oxygen in the body, concludes the study led by doctors at the Porto Alegre Clinics Hospital in Brazil.
Patients with coronary heart disease who underwent laughter therapy saw reduced inflammation and improved health, research shows.
“Our study found that laughter therapy increased the functional capacity of the cardiovascular system,” said again lead author Professor Marco Saffi of the Porto Alegre Clinics Hospital in Brazil. reported in The Guardian.
The study included 26 adults with an average age of 64, all diagnosed with coronary heart disease.