According to research, eating more ultra-processed foods is linked to cognitive decline and stroke

  • Food
  • June 15, 2024

People who eat more ultra-processed foods, such as soft drinks, chips and cookies, may be at greater risk of memory and thinking problems and stroke than those who eat fewer processed foods, according to a new study published in the May 22, 2024, issue of the paper. online edition of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The research does not prove that eating ultra-processed foods causes memory and thinking problems and strokes. It just shows a connection.

Ultra-processed foods are high in added sugars, fats and salt, and low in protein and fiber. They include soft drinks, salty and sugary snacks, ice cream, hamburger, canned baked beans, ketchup, mayonnaise, packaged breads and flavored breakfast cereals. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods include meats such as simple cuts of beef, pork and chicken, and fruits and vegetables.

“While a healthy diet is important for maintaining brain health in older adults, the most important nutritional choices for your brain remain unclear,” says study author W. Taylor Kimberly, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “We found that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of both stroke and cognitive impairment, and that the association between ultra-processed foods and stroke was greater among black participants.”

For the study, researchers looked at 30,239 people aged 45 or older who identified themselves as black or white. They were followed for an average of eleven years.

Participants filled out questionnaires about what they ate and drank. Researchers determined how much ultra-processed food people ate by calculating the grams per day and comparing it to the grams per day of other foods to create a percentage of their daily diet. That percentage was calculated in four groups, ranging from the least processed foods to the most processed foods.

Of the total number of participants, researchers looked at 14,175 participants for cognitive decline and 20,243 participants for stroke. Both groups had no history of cognitive impairment or stroke.

At the end of the study, 768 people were diagnosed with cognitive impairment and 1,108 people had a stroke.

For those in the cognitive group, people who developed memory and thinking problems consumed 25.8% of their diet in ultra-processed foods, compared to 24.6% for those who did not develop cognitive problems.

After adjusting for age, gender, high blood pressure and other factors that could influence dementia risk, researchers found that a 10% increase in the amount of ultra-processed foods eaten was associated with a 16% higher risk of cognitive impairment.

They also found that eating more whole or minimally processed foods was linked to a 12% lower risk of cognitive impairment.

Among those in the stroke group, those who had a stroke during the study consumed 25.4% of their diet in ultra-processed foods, compared to 25.1% in those who had not had a stroke.

After adjustments, researchers found that greater intake of ultra-processed foods was associated with an 8% increase in stroke risk, while greater intake of unprocessed or minimally processed foods was associated with a 9% lower risk of stroke.

The effect of ultra-processed food consumption on stroke risk was greater among black participants, with a 15% relative increase in stroke risk.

“Our findings show that the amount of food processing plays an important role in overall brain health,” Kimberly said. “More research is needed to confirm these results and to better understand which food or processing components contribute most to these effects.”

A limitation of the study was that only participants who self-identified as black or white were included in the study, so the results may not be generalizable to people from other populations.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Related Posts

  • Food
  • July 19, 2024
  • 3 views
  • 4 minutes Read
Food aroma research could help explain why meals in space taste bad

Scientists from RMIT University have conducted a world-first study of common food odours, which could explain why astronauts in space experience bland meals and struggle to eat their normal diets.…

  • Food
  • July 19, 2024
  • 3 views
  • 3 minutes Read
Groundcherry gets genetic upgrades: Garden wonder turns into agricultural powerhouse

Imagine a small fruit that tastes like a cross between a tomato and a pineapple, wrapped in its own natural paper lantern. That's the groundcherry (Physalis grisea) — a little-known…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Missed

Cash Yields 5% and Many Americans Are Still Missing Out

  • July 20, 2024
Cash Yields 5% and Many Americans Are Still Missing Out

History of US Soccer at the Olympics: USWNT Success Defines Them, USMNT Returns After 16 Years

  • July 19, 2024
History of US Soccer at the Olympics: USWNT Success Defines Them, USMNT Returns After 16 Years

Chinese make their own cooking oil after scandal raises concerns

  • July 19, 2024
Chinese make their own cooking oil after scandal raises concerns

Connecting an antenna to a TV: watch movies, series and sports for free

  • July 19, 2024
Connecting an antenna to a TV: watch movies, series and sports for free

A Guide to Your Weekend Viewing and Reading Pleasure: NPR

  • July 19, 2024
A Guide to Your Weekend Viewing and Reading Pleasure: NPR

What You Need to Know About Airline Refunds and Delays

  • July 19, 2024
What You Need to Know About Airline Refunds and Delays

NFL kickoff rules for 2024 could create excitement…and chaos: 'It's going to be a show'

  • July 19, 2024
NFL kickoff rules for 2024 could create excitement…and chaos: 'It's going to be a show'

European markets: open to closed

  • July 19, 2024
European markets: open to closed

Investors are betting on the 'Trump trade'. Here's what it means.

  • July 19, 2024
Investors are betting on the 'Trump trade'. Here's what it means.

Scientists find new target for RSV drug

  • July 19, 2024
Scientists find new target for RSV drug

DOJ says largest housing provider for migrant children involved in widespread sexual abuse

  • July 19, 2024
DOJ says largest housing provider for migrant children involved in widespread sexual abuse