Consistent consumption of highly processed foods can lead to cognitive decline

Throwing a frozen dinner into the microwave might be efficient in the moment, but it comes with a price, a new study indicates.

It might wreck your brain.

Overconsumption of processed foods has been blamed for a host of ills, and now cognitive decline can be added to the list.

A daily diet consisting of more than 20% junk can jump-start cognitive decline, said the authors of a study presented Monday at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego.

That mouth-watering array of sauces, soups, frozen pizza, fries, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, processed pastries, cake, ice cream and candy that we love to chow down on could kill us prematurely — or at least compromise our brains.

As if an increased risk of obesity, vascular problems, diabetes and cancer weren’t enough

the study found a correlation between high consumption of processed foods and impairment of a brain’s executive functioning — the region that processes information and makes decisions.

More than 10,000 people were studied over 10 years in Brazil, where ultraprocessed foods comprise 25% to 30% of total caloric intake.

Before and after the study, the middle-aged and older participants were given cognitive tests and were asked about their diet.

Industrially made foods that contain oils, fats, sugars, starch, protein isolates and additives like flavorings, colorings, emulsifiers and other substances were included in the dirty definition.

At the end of the study, men and women eating the highest amount of ultraprocessed foods showed a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline

and a 25% faster rate of executive function decline when compared to people who ate the least amount of overly processed food.

“Independent of the amount of calories, independent of the amount of healthy food that you try to eat, the ultra-processed food is not good for your cognition,” said study coauthor Dr. Claudia Suemoto