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The Link Between High Intake of Emulsifiers in Ultra-Processed Foods and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: New Study Reveals


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A New Study Finds High Intake of Certain Ingredients in Processed Foods Linked to Heart Attacks and Strokes

A recent study published in the journal BMJ reveals that consuming high levels of certain ingredients commonly found in processed foods may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. French researchers who conducted the study suggest that these findings should prompt a reevaluation of regulations in the food industry to better protect consumers.

Examining the Effects of Emulsifiers in Packaged Foods

The focus of the study was to investigate the health effects of specific emulsifiers used in packaged foods, including ice cream, margarine, and prepared meals. Researchers believe that these emulsifiers may impact gut bacteria and contribute to inflammation, ultimately raising the risk of heart problems.

Study Details and Findings

Between 2009 and 2021, the study involved 95,442 French adults with no prior history of heart disease. The participants, with an average age of 43 years, were predominantly women, accounting for approximately 79% of the total. Each participant recorded their food intake, which was then matched with brand names to determine the presence and quantity of emulsifiers.

After a seven-year follow-up period, the researchers found that higher consumption of cellulose-based emulsifiers (E460 to E468) used to improve texture and thickness in food was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Similar relationships were observed with the acidity regulator E339 and the binding factor E472c.

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Furthermore, the study revealed a potential link between the flavoring agent emulsifier E472b, commonly used in baked goods and cakes, and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. However, the researchers did not find any associations between other emulsifiers studied and cardiovascular disease outcomes.

Limitations and the Need for Further Research

Although the study provides valuable insights, the researchers emphasized that it is an observational study and cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship. They stressed the importance of replicating the results in other large-scale studies to confirm the findings.

Experts in the field, such as Tracey Parker, a nutritionist at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), agree that this type of study cannot ignore the potential link between high consumption of specific emulsifiers and cardiovascular disease. However, Parker highlights the need for additional research to fully comprehend this relationship.

Dr. Gavin Stewart, a Senior Lecturer in Evidence Synthesis at Newcastle University, acknowledges the potential effect demonstrated by the study but advises careful interpretation. He suggests that further research and evidence synthesis are necessary to reduce uncertainty surrounding these findings.

Confirmation from Other Studies

The study aligns with two papers presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Amsterdam, which also established a connection between consuming ultra-processed foods and cardiovascular disease. One study conducted by the University of Sydney observed over 10,000 middle-aged women for 15 years and found that those with the highest intake of ultra-processed foods had a 39% higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure compared to those with the lowest intake. Another study from the Fourth Military Medical University in China revealed that consuming the maximum amount of ultra-processed foods increased the chances of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or angina by nearly 25%.

Source: Daily Mail

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