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Numerous studies have highlighted the negative impact of a diet rich in processed foods, often focusing on heart issues and weight gain. Recently, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that even a moderate intake of processed foods can raise the risk of memory issues and stroke.

Ultra-processed foods associated with issues like cognitive impairment

Ultra-processed foods are extensively processed products containing additives to improve flavor and texture. These foods are generally low in protein, vitamins, fiber, and minerals, but high in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. They are designed for convenience, affordability, taste, and long shelf life, and are commonly found in fast-food restaurants and vending machines.

The study led by Dr. W. Taylor Kimberly and published in Neurology indicates that consuming a diet rich in ultra-processed foods may lead to health issues like diabetes, obesity, cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, and increased stroke risk.

Study findings indicate that a 10% rise in consuming ultra-processed foods correlated with a 16% rise in cognitive impairment risk. Additionally, increased intake of such foods was associated with an 8% higher risk of stroke, particularly pronounced among Black participants with a 15% increased risk. Conversely, consuming more unprocessed or minimally processed foods was linked to a 12% lower risk of cognitive impairment and a 9% decreased risk of stroke.

Consuming ultra-processed foods increases risk of stroke and cognitive impairment

The tudy tracked 30,239 individuals aged 45 and above, identifying as Black or White, for about eleven years, categorizing them based on their processed food intake. 14,175 participants with no cognitive impairment history were assessed for cognitive decline, while 20,243 with no stroke history were evaluated for stroke risk. Various risk factors like age, sex, and high blood pressure were adjusted during data analysis.

By the study’s end, 768 individuals developed cognitive impairment, and 1,108 experienced a stroke. Results revealed that those with cognitive decline consumed slightly more ultra-processed foods (25.8%) compared to those without (24.6%), and individuals who had a stroke consumed slightly more ultra-processed foods (25.4%) compared to those without (25.1%).