Header Ads

Time to ditch the burgers? Eating just ONE serving of ultra-processed foods a day can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by 9%

 Having a single serving of ultra-processed food including crisps, sweets, chocolate and burgers can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by 9%, study shows. 

Researchers from New York University used data from a study of 3,003 middle-aged adults to examine the role of processed foods on cardiovascular disease.

The team found that the higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and it gets worse the more you eat. 

'Our findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting cardiovascular benefits of limiting ultra-processed foods,' said Filippa Juul, study lead author.

Drinking low-calories soft drinks and other 'healthy' branded snack foods including cereal and protein bars, was also linked to an increased risk of heart disease. 

Having a single serving of ultra-processed food including crisps, sweets, chocolate and burgers can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by 9%, study shows

Having a single serving of ultra-processed food including crisps, sweets, chocolate and burgers can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by 9%, study shows


When foods are processed it may remove good nutrients and other naturally occurring benefits, while adding non-beneficial nutrients and food additives.

Processing also changes the physical structure of foods, the team added. 

The consumption of ultra-processed foods is linked with a number of health conditions and problems.

Including: Being overweight/obese, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and now heart disease.  

'The consumption of ultra-processed foods makes up over half of the daily calories in the average American diet and are increasingly consumed worldwide. 

'As poor diet is a major modifiable risk factor for heart disease, it represents a critical target in prevention efforts,'  said Juul, adding that ultra-processed foods include many marketed as being healthy.

This includes foods such as protein bars, breakfast cereals and most industrially produced breads.

'Population-wide strategies such as taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages and other ultra-processed foods and recommendations regarding processing levels in national dietary guidelines are needed,' Juul warned.

That is if governments want to reduce the intake of ultra-processed foods and in turn help people lead a healthier lifestyle.


'Of course, we must also implement policies that increase the availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious, minimally processed foods, especially in disadvantaged populations,' the author added.

'At the clinical level, there is a need for increased commitment to individualised nutrition counseling for adopting sustainable heart-healthy diets.'

Researchers used data from the Framingham Offspring Study to examine the role ultra-processed foods play in cardiovascular disease (CVD). 

After excluding participants with pre-existing CVD or missing data, the study included 3,003 middle-aged adults with an average age of 53.5 years. 

Drinking low-calories soft drinks and other 'healthy' branded snack foods including cereal and protein bars, was also linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Stock image

Drinking low-calories soft drinks and other 'healthy' branded snack foods including cereal and protein bars, was also linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Stock image


Over half of participants were female, 33.1% had undergone 16 years or more of education and two-thirds were either former or current smokers. 

Overall, 5.8% had diabetes and 19% had high blood pressure - with prevalence of both higher among those who eat a lot of ultra-processed foods. 

Diet was assessed by mail using a food questionnaire where participants reported the frequency of consumption of certain foods in the previous year, with options ranging from  less than one serving per months to six servings per day. 

The US Department of Agriculture nutrient database was used to calculate nutrient intakes from reported dietary intakes and classified the foods into five categories.

These categories include unprocessed or fresh foods, processed including sugar and oils, processed including canned foods, ultra processed including fast food burgers and crisps, and finally culinary foods made at home with minimal information.

The researchers examined incidences of stroke, heart disease and other related problems that come on suddenly, and slowly over time

The researchers examined incidences of stroke, heart disease and other related problems that come on suddenly, and slowly over time


The researchers examined incidences of stroke, heart disease and other related problems that come on suddenly, and slowly over time.

This was split into hard CVD - including non-sudden coronary death, heart attack and stroke, and hard CHD (coronary heart disease) - sudden death and heart attack. 

During an average of 18 years of follow-up, a total of 648 heart events occurred, including 251 cases of sudden cardiovascular disease and 163 cases of sudden coronary heart disease among those involved in the study. 

There were 713 deaths during the follow-up period, including 108 CVD deaths.

Participants with the highest intakes of ultra-processed foods had higher incident rates compared to those consuming the least amount of ultra-processed foods.

Each daily serving of ultra-processed food was associated with a 7% increase in the risk of hard CVD, a 9% increase in the risk of hard CHD, a 5% increase in overall CVD and a 9% increased risk in cardiovascular disease mortality. 

Researchers also found that intake of bread was associated with an increased risk of hard CVD, hard CHD and overall mortality, while ultra-processed meat intake was associated with an increased risk of hard CVD and overall CVD. 

Salty snack foods were associated with increased risk of hard CVD and CHD, while consumption of low-calorie soft drinks were associated with increased risk of CVD.    

The findings have been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

No comments