Eating ‘Ultra-Processed’ Foods Can Shave Years Off Your Life

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Researchers say these prepackaged foods are convenient and tasty, but they can cause a number of long-term health problems.

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Most “ultra-processed” foods contain high levels of salt and/or sugar. Getty Images

Most people will admit to lapses in healthy eating whether it’s occasionally scarfing pizza at a party or grabbing a bacon double cheeseburger on the run.

And many know these quick eats aren’t doing their body any favors.

But now there’s evidence that the more highly processed foods people eat, the likelier they are to die earlier.

Findings from a French study that appeared in a specialty publication of The Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded that ultra-processed foods might be responsible for premature deaths.

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These foods have already been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity.

Ultra-processed foods are typically packaged snacks, desserts, breads, ready-to-eat meals, and sugary drinks. These products generally have many ingredients and go through multiple steps during manufacturing.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, a licensed, registered dietitian who is manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Ohio, isn’t surprised by the study’s conclusions.

Ultra-processed foods are simply a tasty temptation, she explained.

“It’s very hard to stay away from them,” Kirkpatrick told Healthline.