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These foods can make you get a stroke and memory problems

Researchers have found that eating more ultra-processed foods is linked to a higher risk of memory and cognitive problems, as well as stroke. Ultra-processed foods are prepared using industrial processes, usually involving a large number of ingredients, many of which would not normally be used in home preparation.

They include soft drinks, pizza, prepackaged soups, sauces, ready-to-eat meals and pleasure foods such as hot dogs, sausages, French fries, cookies, cakes, candies, doughnuts, ice cream, canned baked beans, ketchup, mayonnaise, packaged bread, flavoured cereals and many more.

Such foods are typically high in added sugar, fat and salt, and low in protein and fibre. On the other hand, unprocessed or minimally processed foods include simple cuts of meat such as beef, pork and chicken, as well as vegetables and fruits.

The findings, published in the online issue of Neurolog, show that eating more unprocessed or minimally processed foods was associated with a 12 per cent lower risk of cognitive impairment.

The study included more than 30,000 people over the age of 45 years with no history of cognitive impairment or stroke to determine how much ultra-processed food people ate by calculating the grammes per day and comparing it to the grammes per day of other foods to create a percentage of their daily diet.

This percentage was then divided into four groups based on the amount of processed food consumed, from the lowest to the highest. The researchers found that a 10 per cent increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a 16 per cent higher risk of cognitive impairment.

Similarly, in the stroke group, people who had a stroke during the study consumed a higher percentage of ultra-processed foods than those who did not have a stroke. The study highlights the importance of food processing for overall brain health. However, further research is needed to confirm the findings and to better understand which specific foods or processing components contribute most to these effects.

“While a healthy diet is important in maintaining brain health among older adults, the most important dietary choices for your brain remain unclear. We found that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of both stroke and cognitive impairment,” said W Taylor Kimberly, author of the study