Here’s what ultra-processed food does to your blood pressure


According to a new study, having a high proportion of ultra-processed foods can lead to highly variable blood pressure between day and night.
People whose diet included more unprocessed or less processed food had fewer blood pressure fluctuations between day and night.
Ultra-processed foods include ice cream, spaghetti hoops, ham, sausages, crisps and breakfast cereals.
High blood coercion rarely has noticeable symptoms, but around a third of adults in the U.K. suffer from it.
Many of these people will not realize it, and if left untreated, high blood pressure increases the risk of serious problems, including heart attacks and strokes.
The research used ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), where blood pressure is monitored over time, which enables researchers to evaluate blood pressure ‘dipping’ at night and surging in the morning.

All of these have been found to predict cardiovascular risk.

The researchers write, “Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) allows the assessment of cardiovascular risk markers that cannot be obtained by casual measurement.
“The findings of this study revealed that high consumption of processed food is associated with greater variability in S.B.P. during sleep and greater odds of extreme nocturnal dipping.”
The researchers collected ABMP measurements from 815 patients between the ages of 35 and 70 registered in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Mature Health (ELSA-Brasil).
Blood pressure was collected every 20 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes at night, and their consumption of foods and beverages was recorded.
The researchers found that high consumption of processed foods was correlated with high blood pressure variability and a high probability of extreme ‘dipping’ at night.
The term “processed food” can cause some uncertainty because most cooking is processed in some way.

Empowering Individuals to Make Healthier Food Choices

Mechanical processing — such as crushing beef, heating vegetables, or pasteurizing foods — does not surely make foods unhealthful. If the processing does not attach chemicals or ingredients, it does not tend to reduce the healthfulness of the food.
However, there is a contrast between mechanical processing and chemical processing.
Chemically processed foods often only contain refined ingredients and artificial substances with little nutritional value. They tend to have added chemical flavouring agents, colours, and sweeteners.
Compared to whole foods, these ultra-processed foods are sometimes called “cosmetic” foods.
Black adults in the U.S. who consumed significant amounts of ultra-processed foods were at 55% increased risk for high blood pressure disparity to white adults who ate a similar amount of ultra-processed foods, according to preliminary testing to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, avoidance, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2021. The meeting is virtual, May 20-21 and offers the latest science on population-based health and wellness and implications for lifestyle.

Ultra-processed foods (U.P.F.) are ready-to-eat formulations of industrially formulated products, typically containing added flavours, colours, and other cosmetic additives, that have been extracted or refined from whole foods and are generally high in salt, added sugar, and fat. These food products are inexpensive, heavily marketed, and readily available with a long shelf life.
People experiencing food insecurity, the state of not having reliable access to affordable enough, nutritious food, are more likely to eat UPF. While there is growing evidence that U.P.F. has little nutrients and contributes to energy imbalance, few studies have examined the impact of U.P.F. on high blood pressure. This condition can be affected by high salt intake and disproportionately affects people from diverse racial and ethnic groups.
“The increase in food insecurity over the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic makes this research especially timely,” says the study’s lead author, Carol R. Oladele, PhD, M.P.H., assistant professor at the Equity Research and Innovation Center of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Oladele explains that “people meet food insecurity are more likely to purchase and eat U.P.F. because they cost less and have a longer shelf life. These foods may have become more central in the diet of population groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic.”

Collaborative Efforts to Reduce Ultra-Processed Food Consumption.

For this analysis, researchers extracted data from the ongoing Reasons for Geographic and Racial Disparities in Stroke (REGARDS) study to examine the differences in U.P.F. consumption among Black and white adults and its association with high blood pressure rates. REGARDS is a National Institutes of Health-sponsored study that enrolled more than 30,000 Black and white adults across the United States between 2003-2007.
The NOVA system, the international criteria developed by the Center for Epidemiological Learning in Health and Nutrition at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, defines the level of processing in foods from 1 (minimal processing) to 4 (ultra-processed). The United Nations-recognized system was used in this analysis to categorize the level of processing for foods consumed.

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Olivia Wilson

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