Two recent studies have highlighted that the foods commonly consumed in the traditional British diet could pose a greater risk for fatal cardiovascular diseases. These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam.
Researchers shared their results in twin presentations, indicating that the consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPF) such as cereals, sugary drinks, and fast food substantially elevates the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Food advocate Henry Dimbleby emphasized that these findings should be a warning signal for the UK, which has a significant reliance on ultra-processed foods, comprising about 55% of the diet. Dimbleby stressed that if the inherent processing of foods is detrimental, it could lead to severe consequences. He pointed out the growing issue of UPF consumption in Britain, stating that it’s creating future problems that could overwhelm the National Health Service (NHS).
Anushriya Pant, a researcher involved in one of the studies, noted that many individuals are unaware of which seemingly healthy foods might actually contribute to health risks. She mentioned that foods typically considered healthier, such as store-bought sandwiches, wraps, soups, and low-fat yogurts, might still have negative impacts like contributing to high blood pressure.
The first study, conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney, focused on over 10,000 middle-aged women over a span of 15 years. They found that 39% of women with higher ultra-processed food intake were more prone to developing high blood pressure compared to those with lower intake.
The second study, presented by Yang Qu on behalf of China’s Fourth Military Medical University, indicated that individuals consuming the most ultra-processed foods had nearly a 25% higher likelihood of experiencing heart attacks, strokes, or angina. The research also revealed that even a minor increase of 10% in UPF consumption led to a notable rise in the risk of heart disease. On the other hand, those with less than 15% of their diet consisting of ultra-processed foods demonstrated the lowest risk of heart-related health problems.