A new study released by Harvard researchers found that people who consume larger quantities of ultra-processed foods are more likely to report being depressed.
The study released last week in JAMA found that those who consume ultra-processed foods are 49% more likely to report being depressed than the general population.
Ultra-processed foods tend to be ones that have a lot of additives, including fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats. These foods tend to be calorie-dense, palatable, and ready-to-eat.
Whether ultra-processed foods are a cause of depression or whether those who suffer from depression are more likely to choose ultra-processed foods is unclear. The study said those who consume ultra-processed foods tend to have "greater BMI, higher smoking rates, and increased prevalence of comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia and were less likely to exercise regularly."
The study noted that when people reduced their consumption of ultra-processed foods by three servings a day, they were less likely to report being depressed.
The study also noted that those who consume artificially sweetened products were more likely to say they suffer from depression.
One limitation of the new study is that it primarily included non-Hispanic White women, researchers said.
The research builds on previous Harvard studies that showed that the consumption of ultra-processed foods was tied to cognitive decline.
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