Consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with cognitive deterioration

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Science Writing (EFE).- Ultra-processed foods have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or obesity, but their consumption may also be associated with cognitive impairment.

Research published by Jama magazine and led by Brazilian scientists analyzed a group of 10,775 adults and observed that a higher percentage of daily energy intake from ultra-processed foods was associated with an overall cognitive decline rate of 28% higher than those who consumed less.

Participants ranged in age from 35 to 74, with an average age of 51.6, 54.6% were female, and the group was followed for a measurement of eight years.

Faster cognitive decline for people with higher consumption of ultra-processed foods

People reporting an ultra-processed food intake of more than 19.9% ​​of daily calories had a 28% faster rate of overall cognitive decline than those reporting consuming less.

Additionally, they had a 25% faster rate of executive function decline compared to those who reported consuming these types of foods at or below 19.9% ​​of daily calories, the study found.

Changes in cognitive performance over time were assessed with tests of immediate and delayed word recall, word recognition, and phonemic and semantic fluency.

The team believed that these results supported current public health recommendations to limit the consumption of ultra-processed foods due to their potential damage to cognitive function, as well as increased risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.

“Intact cognitive function is key to successful aging,” the authors write, adding that “limiting the consumption of ultra-processed foods, especially in middle-aged adults, may be an effective way to prevent cognitive decline”.

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