They may be convenient, but eating ultraprocessed foods could increase your risk of early death, a new study warns.
"Ultraprocessed foods are mostly consumed in the form of snacks, desserts, or ready-to-eat or -heat meals," and their consumption "has largely increased during the past several decades," wrote the authors of the study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, CNN reported.
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The study included more than 44,000 adults, 45 and older, in France who were followed for two years.
The researchers found that each 10 percent increase in the amount of ultraprocessed foods consumed was associated with a 14 percent higher risk of early death, CNN reported.
Ultraprocessed foods accounted for more than 14 percent of the weight of total food consumed by the participants, and about 29 percent of their total calories.
Further research is need to confirm the study findings, said the authors, who suggested that additives, packaging (chemicals get into the food during storage) and the processing itself (including high-temperature processing) may be why ultraprocessed foods can harm health, CNN reported.
The "findings make sense, given what we know to date about the deleterious effects of food additives on brain function and health, but the effects observed are very small," Molly Bray, chairwoman of the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, told CNN.
She was not involved in the study.
There are many kinds of ultraprocessed foods and the study could not pinpoint exactly what might make them a threat to health, according to Nurgul Fitzgerald, associate professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University. She was not involved in the study.
"Some factors may be more harmful or less harmful than others. It's really too complex," Fitzgerald told CNN, and added that we can't "run with" these results.
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