Diet & Nutrition

Eating ultraprocessed foods can raise your risk of a premature death, a new study has found. Researchers in France tracked the health and diet of 44,551 French men and women ages 45 and over for two years. Overall, ultraprocessed foods such as chicken nuggets, potato chips, packaged cakes, and ready-to-eat meals made up about 29 percent of participants’ calorie intake, with consumption generally higher among those who were younger, poorer, or less educated, and among those who lived alone, had a higher BMI, and did less exercise. Over the study period, 602 of the participants died, and after adjusting for other factors, the researchers calculated that every 10 percent increase in ultraprocessed foods consumption was linked to a 14 percent higher risk of early death. The authors say that some additives in these foods are carcinogenic, and that chemicals from packaging may leak into the foods. In addition, the high-temperature techniques involved in processing may create contaminants. Nurgul Fitzgerald, a nutritional scientist at Rutgers University who wasn’t involved in the study, tells that shoppers should look at the ingredients list on processed foods and buy only those products “with the least number of ingredients and with ingredients you understand.”

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