Grab-and-go foods are an easy option for busy lives, but if you opt for ultra-processed foods to often you are greater risk of heart disease.

About 55% of Americans’ daily calories come from eating ultra-processed foods, reports a new study aby Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, in Manhasset, N.Y. The more calories that came from ultra-processed foods, the worse heart health was, the findings suggested.

So, what are ultra-processed foods? They’re ones made mostly or totally from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, hydrogenated fats and added sugars. They may also have additives, like artificial flavors or colors, or substances that stabilize these foods (emulsifiers), according to the researchers.

Many items marketed as “convenience foods” are ultra-processed, like frozen meals, jarred sauces and fast food. Other examples of ultra-processed foods include soft drinks, packaged salty snacks, cookies and cakes, processed meats, like hot dogs and cold cuts, chicken nuggets, and powdered and packaged instant soups. These foods are essentially devoid of nutrients required for health. They also may increase inflammation, negatively affect the balance of bacteria in the gut, and contribute to the development of plaque deposits in the blood vessels.

Every 5% increase in ultra-processed food calories led to a corresponding decrease in overall heart and blood vessel health, the study found.

Another study looked at more than 100,000 French people for over five years and found that those who ate the most ultra-processed foods were more apt to have a stroke or heart condition.

To learn more about healthy eating and ways to create wellness programs for happier, less stressed, more engaged employees, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss implementing this powerful program at your facility.  Interested in LeAnn Thieman’s keynote speaking, training and workshops? Email lthieman@leannthieman.com.