11 Popular Foods Linked To Early Death

Image: Glane23, CC BY-SA 3.0

A growing body of evidence is linking junk food to earlier death

| qz.com – Nutrition research is a fickle area of science in which no single study can definitively say what you should or should not eat.

Yet over time, the evidence linking highly-processed foods to chronic diseases, cancer, and earlier mortality rates has mounted.

Now add a new piece of research to the pile –

A new study shows that people with diets heavier in ultra-processed foods—the kinds manufactured industrially from ingredients that often include additives for technological and cosmetic purposes—are more likely to die earlier.

For the study, researchers picked participants who’d completed at least one set of three 24-hour diet diaries every six months for two years and surveys in which they submitted body-mass index, physical activity, and sociodemographic data.

After analyzing each person’s overall diet—and parsing out what percentage was comprised of ultra-processed foods—the researchers found that such foods were associated with younger age, lower income, lower educational level, a greater likelihood of living alone, a higher body-mass index, and lower level of physical activity.

After adjusting for other health factors, including smoking, there was a 14% higher risk of early death for each 10% increase in the proportion of highly processed foods people ate. Over the course of the two-year period, 602 of the study participants died.

Put simply: The more junk food people ate, the greater risk they had of dying earlier than those who kept their ultra-processed intake to a minimum. Read more. 

Avoiding ultra-processed foods – AKA junk food

Healthline – Here are some changes you can make to reduce the amount of ultra-processed foods in your diet [to which we’ve added our own best practices, and a few candid admissions. – Editor]:

Ultra-processed Processed Home version Headline Health best practices
sweetened breakfast cereals plain bran cereal oatmeal made with rolled oats and sweetened with honey We never eat sweetened breakfast cereals. We occasionally eat store-brand toasted oat “O’s”
Coke artificially flavored sparkling water SodaStream We never drink soda of any type other than plain club soda.
flavored potato chips plain tortilla chips DIY pita chips We rarely eat flavored potato chips and occasionally eat regular potato chips. We often eat plain tortilla chips.
white bread whole-wheat bread with minimal ingredients homemade bread We never buy basic white bread. We occasionally buy white flour tortillas or English muffins. We occasionally have a sandwich or burger on white bread when dining out.
fried chicken deli rotisserie chicken roast chicken from scratch We don’t eat fried chicken, except for an occasional order of wings. Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store is a staple of the Headline Health kitchen.
flavored candy bar with long ingredient list simple candy bar with short ingredient list dark chocolate squares We never eat candy bars with long ingredient lists. We occasionally eat basic chocolate bars or kisses, preferably dark.
Frappuccino store-bought cold brew drip coffee We rarely consume any coffee drink other than black coffee. We never consume coffee with added sugar.
mashed potato flakes frozen potatoes fresh, whole potatoes We never eat mashed potato flakes. We sometimes eat fries when dining out. We buy fresh potatoes and make our own potato dishes – not fried.
energy drink sweetened fruit juice fresh-squeezed orange juice We’ve never tasted an energy drink and don’t expect to.
flavored granola bars with added sugar and preservatives granola bars with minimal additives DIY granola We do eat granola bars with minimal additives; these are our go-to emergency food.  
artificially flavored cheese crackers naturally flavored crackers whole-grain crackers and cheese slices We can’t resist Cheez-Its (eat them often) and Cheetos (eat them occasionally) – sorry, no one’s perfect. Whole-grain crackers and cheese slices are good, too.


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