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Plant-Based Processed Foods: Not So Heart-Healthy After All!

A new study reveals a surprising culprit for cardiovascular diseases: ultra-processed plant-based foods.

Sarbani Bhattacharjee
Plant-Based Processed Foods (This image has been created with MidJourney)
Plant-Based Processed Foods (This image has been created with MidJourney)

Plant-based diets have been highly recommended when it comes to heart health, but when they are ultra-processed the benefits can completely reverse. Here are why these seemingly healthy options are compromising your well-being.

Hidden Dangers of Plant-Based Processed Foods

Increased Risk of Heart Disease:  The study, published in The Lancet Regional Health-Europe, found that consuming ultra-processed plant-based foods like meat substitutes, fruit juices, and pastries is linked to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. This is because processing strips away beneficial nutrients and replaces them with unhealthy additives like salt, sugar, and fat.

Addiction and Reduced Appetite for Natural Foods: The artificial flavors and heightened palatability of these foods can trick your taste buds, making it difficult to appreciate the natural flavors of fruits and vegetables. This can lead to overconsumption and a decline in overall diet quality.

Faster Nutrient Absorption and Blood Sugar Spikes: Ultra-processing destroys a food's natural structure, causing your body to absorb nutrients more rapidly. This can lead to blood sugar spikes and reduced satiety, increasing your risk of weight gain and related health issues.

Formation of Harmful Compounds: During industrial processing, extreme temperatures, and pressures can transform additives into new, potentially harmful compounds like acrolein and acrylamide, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease.

Loss of Essential Nutrients: Processing often removes fiber, polyphenols, and phytosterols - all crucial for reducing inflammation and promoting overall health.

Other Health Concerns Regarding Plant-based Foods

Studies have linked ultra-processed foods, regardless of their source (plant or animal), to a range of health problems, including weight gain and obesity, increased cancer risk, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, to mention a few.

To minimize these risks, prioritize minimally processed plant-based foods like packaged foods with lengthy ingredient lists containing colorants, sweeteners, and artificial additives. A healthy life begins with making the right meal choices!

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