ST. LOUIS — Do you love frozen pizza? What about breakfast cereal or ice cream?
New research unveiled at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, taking place at the San Diego Convention Center and onlinefrom July 31 to August 4, shows eating large amounts of ultra-processed foods can significantly accelerate cognitive decline.
We're talking processed foods like sodas, breakfast cereals, white bread, potato chips, and frozen foods, like pizza.
Scientists followed more than 10,000 middle-aged adults in Brazil to come up with the data.
The study found people who consume the highest amount of ultra-processed foods have a 28% faster decline in global cognitive scores compared to those with lower consumption. Global cognition includes memory, verbal fluency, and executive function, or the ability to make a plan and carry it out.
Scientists also found participants who got more than 20% of daily calories from ultra-processed food saw the fastest decline over a six to 10-year period compared to those who ate little processed food.
“There is growing evidence that what we eat can impact our brains as we age, and many studies suggest it is best to eat a heart-healthy diet low in processed foods, and high in whole, nutritional foods like vegetables and fruits,” said Claire Sexton, D.Phil., Senior Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach at the National Alzheimer’s Association.
A similar study in the U.K. found that for every 10% increase in the daily intake of ultra-processed foods, there was a 25% higher risk of developing dementia.
Researchers call the new data troubling but not surprising.