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Ultra-processed foods are linked to increased risk of dementia, study says

Chocolate is one of the unhealthy over-processed foods (Photo: Pixabay)

eat large amounts of ultra-processed foods, such as soda, chocolate, snack foods and canned goods, can increase the risk of dementia. This is the conclusion of a study carried out in Chinawhose results were recently published in the scientific journal Neurology.

According to The Independent, the work suggests that for every 10% increase in daily intake of ultra-processed foods, which are high in sugar, fat and salt, and low in protein and fiber, people have a 25% higher risk of insanity. In addition, it points out that replacing only 10% of foods in this group with unprocessed or minimally processed products, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, milk and meat, is associated with a 19% lower risk of dementia.

“Ultra-processed foods are convenient and tasty, but they detract from the quality of a person’s diet. They may also contain food additives or packaging molecules, or else produced during heating – all of these elements have negative effects on thinking and memory skills,” said one of the study’s authors, Huiping Li, from Tianjin Medical University.

To arrive at the results, the researchers evaluated 72,083 individuals aged 55 and over who are part of the UK Biobank, a large database that contains health information from half a million people. At the start of the analyses, they did not have dementia, but after being followed for an average of 10 years, 518 were diagnosed with the problem.

Participants were divided into four equal groups, from the lowest percentage of consumption of ultra-processed foods to the highest. According to the Independent portal, the researchers determined the amount of ultra-processed foods they ate by calculating the grams per day and comparing it to grams per day of other foods.

The researchers found that, on average, this type of food made up 9% of the daily diet of people in the lowest group (about 225 grams) and 28% (814 grams) of those in the highest group.

“Our results also show increasing unprocessed or minimally processed foods by just 50 grams per day, which is the equivalent of half an apple, a serving of corn or a bowl of bran cereal, while simultaneously decreasing ultra-processed foods by 50 grams per day. day, the equivalent of a chocolate bar or a serving of fish sticks, is associated with a 3% decrease in the risk of dementia. It’s encouraging to know that small, manageable dietary changes can make a difference in a person’s risk of dementia,” added Huiping Li.

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