Dec 23, 2023

Health bombshell for Brits as more than half of our diet linked to heart attacks

A review of ultra-processed food (UPF), high in salt and sugar and used in popular snacks, found they raise cardiovascular risks by 24%, while 60% of the average UK diet is made up of UPFs

More than half of the British diet is linked to heart attacks and strokes, experts warn.

A review of ultra-processed food, high in salt and sugar and used in popular snacks, found they raise cardiovascular risks by 24%.

It comes as the Mirror reveals healthy, fresh produce is almost impossible to find in poorer areas.

Leon founder Henry Dimbleby said: “This should be a wake up call.

“If there is something inherent in the processing of foods that is harmful, then that is a disaster.

“Britain is particularly bad for ultra-processed food.

“It is storing up problems for the future. If we do nothing, a tidal wave of harm will hit the NHS.”

UPFs make up 60% of the average UK diet. Only the US consumes more.

UPFs include most supermarket bread as well as shop-bought sandwiches, soups and crisps and are often high in salt and sugar.

“They have unhealthy artificial additives to boost flavour and shelf life including sweeteners, dyes and bulking agents.

These are mostly not used in home cooking but are cheaper in mass produced food.

UPFs are often low in fibre and lack the nutrients present in fresh foods such fruit and vegetables and homemade bread.

British Heart Foundation medical director Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan said: “There is increasing concern about links shown between UPFs and cardiovascular disease.

“We don’t know to what degree this is driven by artificial additives or the high levels of salt, sugar and fat these foods tend to contain.“

Mr Dimbleby was hired by the Tories to conduct an independent review of the food system.

But he quit in March after ministers refused to act on his many recommendations.

Mr Dimbleby added: “We need a shift in our cooking habits to eat more food cooked from scratch, with more vegetables and fibre.

“That is really hard in practice, it requires a huge cultural shift.”

The finding came in a review of 10 studies involving 325,000 people being presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Amsterdam.

A second study of 10,000 middle aged Australian women showed those who ate more UPFs were 39% more likely to develop high blood pressure.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have introduced legislation to restrict the placement and promotion of certain products in supermarkets to discourage unhealthy choices.”

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