A lot we eat is so processed that it bears little resemblance to “food” at all.
And sadly, these “ultra-processed” foods make up more than half of the Standard American Diet (SAD).
What foods are on that list? Think cheap and easy.
Packaged baked goods
Pre-prepared frozen foods
And the list goes on…
You know these are some of the unhealthiest foods, but does that stop you from eating them?
If the answer is no, and you need a little incentive, I’ve got some for you…
These foods are so far from healthy that two new studies have linked them to early death from heart problems.
Here’s exactly what they found…
Increased risk for early death
The Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) project followed 17,500 participants. Every participant was asked to fill out a 136-item food frequency questionnaire so that the researchers could evaluate their diets both at the start of the study in 1999 and then again in 2014.
They separated the foods on the list into four categories:
• Unprocessed or minimally processed — These were foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, milk, eggs, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, yogurt, grains and natural juices. To understand the terms, an apple picked from an orchard may be considered minimally processed if it is washed and packaged. An unprocessed food would be picked and go straight to your table, like vegetables you might buy at the farmers market.
• Processed ingredients — This category was comprised of things such as salt, sugar, honey, olive oil, butter and lard. For example, to make olive oil, olives are pressed for the oil.
• Processed foods — Cheeses, breads, beer, wine, cured traditional ham and bacon comprised the processed foods list.
• Ultra-processed foods — This category included potato chips, pizza, cookies, chocolates and candies, processed deli meats like sausage, artificially sweetened beverages and alcohols such as whiskey, gin and rum. None of these foods really exist in a “natural” state.
The ultra-processed foods contain bad trans fats, lots of added salts and sugars and very little nutritional value. So, they’re not offering you any benefits and can even cause harm.
When all of the data was in, the team found that people who consumed more than four servings a day of those ultra-processed foods had a whopping 62 percent higher risk for early death due to any cause!
And for every additional serving of those “bad foods,” their risk went up by another 18 percent.
Heart disease on a plate
The second study, performed in France, added even more evidence to those results…
The researchers studied more than 105,000 people in their NutriNet-Santé project, having participants keep dietary records over a six-month period and putting the foods into the same categories used in the first study.
And they found that every 10 percent more of ultra-processed food participants ate raised their risk of:
• Cardiovascular disease — disease of the heart or blood vessels by 12 percent
• Coronary heart disease — plaque buildup in the coronary arteries by 13 percent
• Cerebrovascular disease — disease of the blood vessels of the brain by 11 percent
But they found the reverse was also true: Eating more unprocessed or minimally process foods significantly lowered the risk of all of these diseases.
Limiting ultra-processed foods and boosting heart health
This means that if you want to avoid heart and blood vessel disease and an early death, limiting the amount of these “ultra-processed” foods should be at the top of your list of priorities.
Instead, pick plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy meats to cook at home, and skip the pre-prepared choices that raise your risks — like foods that come in a box.
But truth be told, there are times when preparing a minimally processed meal just isn’t in the cards. For times like those, you can find other ways to support your heart health…
I recommend finding a supplement that includes:
• Vitamin K2 —Vitamin K2 is an almost unknown vitamin but an extremely important one when it comes to the health of your heart and blood vessels. It acts like a shuttle service ensuring that the calcium in your body goes where it’s supposed to — your bones, not the walls of your arteries.
• Nitrosigine® — This ingredient helps your body to make nitric oxide, which opens your arteries to improve blood flow and help you maintain a normal blood pressure.
• Nattokinase — Fibrin is a protein your body makes when it’s been damaged to stop the bleeding — a good thing, right? The problem occurs however when your body isn’t able to dissolve the clot once the bleeding stops. Nattokinase solves this issue and helps safely and naturally dissolve fibrin quickly — which allows your blood to flow smoothly.
• CoQ10 — There may be no other nutrient that has been studied as much for its ability to improve your heart health than CoQ10. In fact, more than 300 studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular health benefits of the supplement, including its ability to help your heart cells, normalize your blood pressure, improve your memory and reduce free radical damage.
Your heart health is in your hands. Skip the ultra-processed foods and choose healthy, fresh options instead. But don’t forget about supplementing the nutrients that can protect your heart so you’re always covered when life gets a little too hectic to eat perfect meals.