Ultra-Processed Foods Damage Your Heart: Study

The results of a new pilot study have confirmed what many of us having been saying for decades: Highly processed foods are damaging to health and well-being.  More specifically, the new study has demonstrated that ultra-processed foods*, which account for more than half of an average American’s daily calories <yikes>, are linked to lower measures of cardiovascular health**.


* Ultra-processed foods are made entirely or mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, hydrogenated fats, added sugar, modified starch and other compounds and include cosmetic additives such as artificial flavors, colors or emulsifiers. Examples include soft drinks, packaged salty snacks, cookies, cakes, processed meats, chicken nuggets, powdered and packaged instant soups and many items often marketed as “convenience foods.”


** Cardiovascular health is defined by the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 as measures of healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels, avoidance of tobacco products, good nutrition, healthy body weight and adequate physical activity.

Study overview

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected between 2011 and 2016, researchers at the CDC reviewed the results from 13,446 adults, 20 years of age and older, who completed a 24-hour dietary recall and answered questions about their cardiovascular health.

Findings overview

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that for every 5% increase in calories from ultra-processed foods a person ate, there was a corresponding decrease in overall cardiovascular health. Adults who ate approximately 70% of their calories from ultra-processed foods were half as likely to have “ideal” cardiovascular health, as defined by the American Heart Associations’ Life’s Simple 7®, compared with people who ate 40% or less of their calories from ultra-processed foods.


If you are getting half or more of your daily calories from restaurant food, fast food, or box/prepared uber-processed food at the grocery store, just stop it. There is no one holding a gun to your head and no valid excuse for allowing half of your food intake calories to be comprised of non-food chemically-concocted junk everyday.  Learn how to cook your own snacks and meals using nutrient-packed whole food ingredients. Even people who are not that smart are doing it. Take responsibility for your own future. And most of all: Make good choices.

Source: American Heart Association