Ultra-Processed Food Additives Increase Risk for Second Heart Attack, Stroke

As we have reported previously*, recent studies have indicated that highly processed foods, which are comprised primarily of synthetic and industrialized food additives rather than whole, “real” food ingredients, can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality.  Now a new study has found that eating ultra-processed foods** can also increase the likelihood of a subsequent, more likely fatal heart attack–or stroke–in individuals who have already suffered an initial heart attack.

ultra processed foods-mortality chart

Study Conclusion

“A diet rich in UPF is associated with increased hazards of all-cause and CVD mortality among individuals with prior cardiovascular events, possibly through an altered renal function. Elevated UPF intake represents a major public health concern in secondary CVD prevention.”  source

“People with a higher consumption of ultra-processed foods have a two-thirds increased risk of a second heart attack or stroke, this time fatal, compared with participants eating these foods less frequently. The probability of dying from any cause is also 40% higher.”

Dr. Marialaura Bonaccio, researcher


Synthetic and industrialized additives in highly processed foods are dangerous to overall well-being


“[Ultra-processed foods] are frequently packaged in materials that are a source of phthalates and bisphenols that are multifunctional synthetic chemicals used to make plastics flexible and durable. Ultra-Processed Foods (UPF) are also a major source of food additives and neoformed compounds that have been shown to have adverse effects on human health in experimental and some epidemiological studies. Thus, it seems that UPFs do not exert specific cardiovascular effects but accelerate the occurrence of secondary events in patients with pre-existing CVD.”

-Dr. Marialaura Bonaccio, researcher


Eat meals and snacks made of whole, natural foods (preferably organic where possible) that you prepare yourself.  Read the ingredients of food items before putting them in your cart and avoid those additives that have been linked in scientific studies to health problems. If you are unsure which additives to avoid, you can find a comprehensive list of food additives to avoid along with the scientific study findings of those additives in CFL founder’s book.



*Ultra-Processed Foods Damage Your Heart: Study

Phthalate Chemicals Linked with High Cholesterol and Heart Disease: Study

In a Heartbeat: Food Chemical BPS Hinders Heart Function within Minutes of Exposure

Highly Processed Foods Again Linked with Obesity, Disease

Phthalates Linked to Heart Rhythm Disruptions

Hospital exposure to BPA may put babies at risk for serious heart conditions

Two More Studies Link Ultra-Processed Foods with Serious Health Risks and Early Death

**In the U.S. nearly 60% of the average person’s diet is likely to be made up of highly processed foods.

Journal reference: Marialaura Bonaccio, Simona Costanzo, Augusto Di Castelnuovo, Mariarosaria Persichillo, Sara Magnacca, Amalia De Curtis, Chiara Cerletti, Maria Benedetta Donati, Giovanni de Gaetano, Licia Iacoviello for the Moli-sani Study Investigators, Ultra-processed food intake and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in individuals with cardiovascular disease: the Moli-sani Study, European Heart Journal, November 2021, ehab783.  Study: