Eating highly processed foods can contribute to a person’s overall cognitive decline, affecting their ability to process information and make decisions, a new study has found.
“People who consumed more than 20% of their daily calories from processed foods had a 28% faster rate of overall cognitive decline and a 25% faster decline in executive function compared to people who ate 20% less processed foods,” said Natalia Gonçalves, co-author of the study and director of the Department of Pathology at the University of São Paulo’s Faculty of Medicine. The researcher told CNN.
As an indication, for someone consuming 2000 calories a day, 20% is equal to 400 calories. It refers to a line of fries with a medium cheeseburger at McDonald’s.
The results were presented Monday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego. The study followed 10,000 Brazilians for a decade. The average age of the participants was 51 years. Cognitive tests were performed at the beginning and end of the study.
“Further studies are needed, but the new findings are very compelling and underscore the important role of good nutrition in long-term brain health,” said Rudy Dancy, professor of neurology at Harvard University.
Ultra-processed foods are defined as “processed food products (oils, fats, sugars, starches, and protein isolates) that contain little or no whole foods and typically flavorings, colors, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives.” .