There is an ongoing debate about which foods we should consume, which diet we should stick to and what food is healthy and what not. There’s no golden rule. However, a new study suggests that ultra-processed food can make you gain weight, which is another negative impact from this food, among many others.
People should rather eat minimally-processed food than ultra-processed food, according to a new study published in the journal Cell Metabolism. Researchers at the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Health say that ultra-processed food is responsible for gaining excess weight, increased risk of cancer, premature death and much more. The study conducted an in-depth analysis of what the consequences are of eating food that goes through industrial processing before arriving on our plates.
Previous studies that focused on this subject explored how this kind of diet could affect weight gain, consisting of having participants recall the foods they previously ate, which can often be challenging. However, this study follows the regular diet of participants, determining how much processed food they consume, and if at all.
They tested a group of ten women and ten men, providing them daily meals under the condition that the participants live at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland for 28 days. The first two weeks saw half of the participants consume an “ultra-processed diet,” eating chicken salad with canned chicken, turkey bacon, sweetened Greek yogurt, baked potato chips and much more.
The other part of the group consumed a minimally-processed diet, eating whole fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, oatmeal and eggs. Two weeks later, the participants switched their diets. The results showed that ultra-processed food is bad for our organism in a way that it causes us to gain weight. Those who ate processed food gained 2 pounds while those who ate minimally-processed food lost two pounds.
Researchers believe weight gain doesn’t only come from eating salty food, calories and fat in the diets, but that it also depends on who ate more fat and carbohydrates, as well as how fast the person was eating the foods.
“We found people over-ate on average more than 500 calories a day on the ultra-processed diet. They gained weight and gained body fat,” Kevin Hall, the study’s lead author told NBC news.
Researchers also conducted blood tests which found that participants who ate minimally-processed foods had traces of a hormone called PYY, which contributed to the feeling of fullness, as opposed to the other group that consumed ultra-processed food.
There was also another study that showed that people who ate ultra-processed food were exposed to a higher risk of developing cancer. A group of researchers from Paris found that eating ultra-processed food contributed to a 12% increase in the number of cancer cases.