In a cohort study of 10 775 individuals, (published in JAMA Neurology on 4 December 2022), higher consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher rate of global and executive function decline after a median follow-up of 8 years.

The study investigated the association between ultra-processed food consumption and cognitive decline in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health.

Although consumption of ultra-processed food has been linked to higher risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and obesity, not as much is known about the possible association with cognitive decline. Although cognitive decline in many cases is clearly related to metabolic health decline.

Ultra-processed foods are defined as: foods made mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats. They may also contain additives like artificial colours and flavours or stabilizers. Examples of these foods are frozen meals, soft drinks, hot dogs and cold cuts, fast food, packaged cookies, cakes, and salty snacks.

A higher percentage of daily energy consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with cognitive decline among adults from an ethnically diverse sample. These findings support current public health recommendations on limiting ultra-processed food consumption because of their potential harm to cognitive function.

It always goes back to the same advice, as much as possible – just eat real food. Real food largely doesn’t HAVE ingredients because it IS ingredients!

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