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Long Shelf Life for Foods Equals Shorter Life for Us

By Sandy Schroeder

As we shop, we all know fresh whole foods really are better for us, and most of us buy some fresh fruits and veggies, but inevitably a lot of other items make it into our shopping carts too.

This comment from Dr. Andrew Freeman, Director of Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness at National Jewish Health Center in Denver, got my attention and really seemed to say it all: "The longer the shelf life, the shorter your life,"

Unfortunately, many longer shelf life items can easily become shopping staples. I think we all buy more than we should. It is not just chips, sweets and fast foods, but it is also processed meats, breads, frozen meals and canned or jarred sauces that find spots in our pantries.

A recent JAMA study concluded that cutting down on the amounts of ultra-processed foods could help us live longer. They defined ultra-processed foods as ready-to-eat and microwaveable foods such as these popular choices.

  • Breads
  • Breakfast cereals,
  • Instant noodles
  • Chicken or fish nuggets,
  • Chocolate bars and candies,
  • Artificially sweetened beverages 

Research Shows What Happens

In one five-year French study of more than 100,000 adults, researchers found the more ultra-processed foods eaten, the higher the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The people who ate the most processed foods were 23 percent more likely to have cardiovascular issues than the ones who ate less processed foods.

In addition to the issues of more sugar, salt and fat in the processed foods, the researchers also suggested  additives or contaminants created during food processing can have negative effects on metabolism and the cardiovascular system.

In another study in Spain of some 20,000 adults, ultra-processed foods were also tied to a shorter lifespan. Those who ate more processed foods were more apt to die in the next 20 years compared to the ones who ate less processed food.

Where to Begin

Drinking less sugared drinks and more waters or teas may be a great place to start moving away from unprocessed choices.

Follow that with all of the fresh fruit that you enjoy. Berries, apricots, apples, pineapple, bananas, cherries, and grapes are just a few of the choices to include in every meal. Add them to breakfast, include them with lunch sandwiches and salads, and make room for them at dinner in fruit salads, side dishes or tarts.

Then start expanding the number and variety of vegetables that you eat. Try new ones, find more recipes for your favorites, and make sure they are there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A veggie omelet, multi-vegetable lunch salad and dinner featuring veggie lasagna, black bean tacos or white bean chili might be good starting menus.

Wherever you are with processed foods, consider making more room for fresh whole foods to enjoy better health.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Wellington, Fla.

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