New York, Nov 13 : If you are eating too much ultra-processed foods, stop consuming it now as researchers have found that eating fast food is linked to lower heart health.
"Eating ultra-processed foods often displaces healthier foods that are rich in nutrients, like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, which are strongly linked to good heart health," said study research Zefeng Zhang from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.
"In addition, ultra-processed foods are often high in salt, added sugars, saturated fat and other substances associated with increasing the risk of heart disease," Zhang added.
Ultra-processed foods are made entirely or mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, hydrogenated fats, added sugar, modified starch and other compounds and include cosmetic additives such as artificial flavours, colours or emulsifiers.
Examples include soft drinks, packaged salty snacks, cookies, cakes, processed meats, chicken nuggets, powdered and packaged instant soups and many items often marketed as "convenience foods."
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected between 2011 and 2016, researchers reviewed the results from 13,446 adults, 20 years of age and older, who completed a 24-hour dietary recall and answered questions about their cardiovascular health.
Researchers have found that for every five per cent increase in calories from ultra-processed foods a person ate, there was a corresponding decrease in overall cardiovascular health.
Adults who ate approximately 70 per cent of their calories from ultra-processed foods were half as likely to have 'ideal' cardiovascular health, compared with people who ate 40 per cent or less of their calories from ultra-processed foods.
"This study underscores the importance of building a healthier diet by eliminating foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages, cookies, cakes and other processed foods," said Donna Arnett from the University of Kentucky in the US.
The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2019 from November 16-18 in Philadelphia, US.