Chicken nuggets taste so good... why do they have to be so bad?
Many of the foods we consume are processed in some way, and that doesn’t mean they’re all bad.
However, there’s one category that comes under extra scrutiny: ultra-processed foods.
They’re easy to prepare on busy days, generally don’t cost much, and are available just about everywhere. Many are fortified, too, so you’re not completely missing out on essential nutrients.
Though the reasons aren’t entirely clear, researchers have observed higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower levels of the huger-suppressing hormone PYY in people who consumed ultra-processed diets.
A 2019 study in the journal Cell Metabolism found that people consume way more calories on ultra-processed diets as opposed to minimally-processed ones.
They also gain more weight along the way.
In a 2020 scientific review in the journal Nutrients, 37 of the 43 studies the researchers analyzed associated ultra-processed food consumption with at least one adverse health effect.
To make matters worse, a 2020 study found that people who eat lots of processed foods are 26 percent more likely to die from any cause.
Heart conditions like cardiovascular disease or stroke were among the most common that study participants who consumed lots of ultra-processed foods experienced.
Processed meat is linked to a higher risk of dementia, as explained in a 2021 study.
Researchers followed study participants for an average of 8 years, finding that people who ate more meats like sausages, ham, and bacon, saw a 44 percent increase in their risk of developing dementia.
People who got less exercise in addition to their ultra-processed food intake were more likely to show more depression symptoms, as well.