It's not all bad with prepared foods
It is widely believed that ultra-processed foods are not only unhealthy, but also quite unhealthy. But according to a large-scale new study, it's not all that scary. Its members claim that prepared meals, vegan substitutes and grains do not cause cancer or diabetes.
Ultra-processed foods have been demonized for raising the risk of poor health, writes the Daily Mail. But a major study has found that some highly processed foods (UPF) may not be so bad for us after all.
Additive foods have been vilified for decades for their supposed risks, and dozens studies have linked them to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, the Daily Mail notes.
Experts have even called for eliminating ultra-processed foods from the diet — as a rule, everything is edible, in which there are more artificial ingredients than natural ones.
But researchers, including several representatives from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) — specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization — said there was no link between the increased risk of disease and ultra-processed breads, cereals and prepared meals. In fact, experts analyzing the results said these products may even reduce the risk. There was also no association found with plant-based substitutes, sweets, desserts and salty snacks.
However, scientists found an increased risk of poor health if people drank a lot of artificially sweetened or sugary drinks or animal products such as processed meat.
Ultra-processed foods include foods that contain ingredients that people do not typically add when cooking homemade food, notes the Daily Mail. These additives may include chemicals, colors, sweeteners and preservatives that extend shelf life.
Prepared meals, ice cream and tomato ketchup are some of the most popular examples of foods that fall under the umbrella term “ultra-processed”, which is now synonymous with foods of low nutritional value.
They are different from processed foods, which processed to make them last longer or improve their flavor, such as cured meats, cheese and fresh bread.
The researchers sought to explore the connection between ultra-processed foods and people suffering from at least two chronic diseases at the same time. This included cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Scientists studied more than 260,000 people in seven European countries and tracked their food intake using questionnaires. The results showed that the average UPF intake for men and women was 413 g/day. and 326 g/day. respectively, which is 34% of the daily calorie intake for men and 32% for women. After an average of 11.2 years, they found that a total of 4,461 people had developed both cancer and heart disease or diabetes.
The analysis found that those who consumed more ultra-processed food , the risk of developing both diseases was about 9% higher.
But when looking at subgroups of such foods, the researchers noted that the association was most pronounced for ultra-processed animal foods and artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Other subgroups, such as highly processed breads and cereals or plant-based alternatives, were not associated with risk,” the researchers concluded.
They said: “Artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened beverages , animal products and sauces, spreads and condiments, but not other subgroups, were associated with an increased risk, suggesting that more detailed subgroup analysis of ultra-processed foods is needed.”
Heinz Freisling, co-author and director of the study at IARC, also said the study “emphasizes that there is no need to completely avoid highly processed foods.” He added: “Rather, their consumption should be limited.” , and preference should be given to fresh or minimally processed foods.”
Meanwhile, Dr Helen Crocker, assistant director of research and policy at the World Cancer Research Fund, which helped fund the study, said: “What's particularly important about this large study is that eating large amounts of ultra-processed foods, particularly animal sources and sweetened beverages have been associated with an increased risk of cancer. cancer develops along with another disease such as stroke or diabetes. Our cancer prevention recommendations include limiting consumption of processed foods high in fats, starches or sugars, avoiding processed meats and eating plenty of whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits.
Dr Ian Johnson, Researcher Nutrition and Distinguished Fellow at the Quadram Institute, a center for food and health research, noted that the researchers recognized that “the UPF definition covers a very broad and diverse range of foods.”
He added: “It is important to note that that ultra-processed bread and grain products have shown an association with reduced risk. These observations do suggest a role for some UPF in multiple chronic diseases, but they also show that the common assumption that all foods with UPF are associated with adverse health effects is likely incorrect. In addition, ultra-processed grain products may have health benefits, perhaps because some are convenient and palatable sources of dietary fiber.