In 1976, when Elton John and Kiki Dee sang "Don't go breaking my heart," they were more concerned with love gone bad than food that did them wrong.
But 45 years later, it turns out that the real risk for heartbreak comes from ultraprocessed foods.
A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that eating ultraprocessed foods — even those touted as healthy, such as protein and energy bars and some breakfast cereals — increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
During 18 years of follow-up on people who started without cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that each daily serving of ultraprocessed food was associated with:
• A 7% increase in the risk of heart attack, coronary death, and stroke in those who developed cardiovascular disease
• A 9% increase in the risk of heart attack and coronary death in people who developed coronary artery disease
• A 9% percent greater risk in cardiovascular disease mortality
Salty foods, low-calorie soft drinks, ultraprocessed meats and breads all were major culprits.
Unfortunately, ultraprocessed foods such as prepared meals, cold cuts, hot dogs, fast food, packaged cookies and cakes, and snacks account for 58% of the calories consumed by the average American.
They're loaded with artificial colors and flavors, chemical preservatives and stabilizers, and food substances like fat, starches, and sugars that are reassembled to imitate a natural food. And they're stripped of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Don't go breaking your heart — or your family's. Opt for fresh, whole foods and lean animal proteins such as salmon or ocean trout.