A new study has found that eating more ultra-processed foods may contribute to a person’s general cognitive decline by affecting their ability to process information and make decisions.
“People who ate more than 20% of their daily calories from processed foods had a 28% faster rate of general cognitive decline and a 25% faster rate of executive function decline compared to people who ate less than 20% of processed products,” Natalia Gonsalves, Co-author of the study and a researcher in the Department of Pathology at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine, told CNN.
As an indication, for a person consuming 2,000 calories per day, 20% is equivalent to 400 calories. This represented an order of French fries with a medium cheeseburger at McDonald’s.
The results were presented Monday at an international conference of the Alzheimer’s Association in San Diego. The study followed 10,000 Brazilians for ten years. The average age of the participants was 51 years. Cognitive tests were performed at the beginning and end of the study.
“More studies are needed, but the new findings are completely convincing and underscore the critical role of good nutrition in long-term brain health,” said Rudi Tanzi, professor of neuroscience at Harvard University.
Ultra-processed foods have been defined by researchers as “products made of food (oils, fats, sugars, starch, and protein isolates) that contain little or no whole foods and typically include flavors, colors, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives.”