Ultra-processed food is even more dangerous than originally thought, according to new studies

Ultra-processed foods can increase risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and more

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published August 28, 2023 4:55PM (EDT)


While there's been lots of press in recent years about the harms of ultra-processed food (UPFs), a new study might be more damning than ever: As reported by Andrew Gregory at The Guardian, "ultra-processed food significantly raises the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes," according to two new separate studies presented at this month's annual European Society of Cardiology conference in Amsterdam. 

One study — which monitored 10,000 women over the course of 15 years — found that those who consumed a higher amount of UPFs were 39% more likely to have high blood pressure than those who weren't. Another study, overseeing over 325,000 men and women, reported that those who consumed the most ultra-processed foods were 24% "more likely to have cardiovascular events" like strokes, angina and heart attacks. 

Also interesting? While many associate ultra-processed foods with "junk food," it also encompasses lots and lots of other foods, some of which might appear "healthy" — but actually be anything but. "For some, especially people who are younger, poorer or from disadvantaged areas, a diet comprising as much as 80% UPF is typical," Gregory reports. Some ideas for handling UPFs going forward are adding black warning labels, restricting sales or putting an even bigger emphasis on healthy, "natural" foods.

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