Filipinos urged to be heart-wise, avoid ultra-processed food

Filipinos urged to be heart-wise, avoid ultra-processed food

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:28 AM February 14, 2024

PHOTO: Stock image of a refrigeration area of a supermarket STORY: Filipinos urged to be heart-wise, avoid ultra-processed food


MANILA, Philippines — Avoiding ultra-processed food products (UPFs) will be good for your heart in the long run, a health group advised on Tuesday, ahead of Valentine’s Day and in time for Philippine Heart Month, which is marked every February.

“One way of showing extra love and care for our hearts is to cut down [on] our consumption of [UPFs] to save ourselves from cardiovascular diseases,” Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, former health secretary and Healthy Philippines Alliance (HPA) convener, said in a statement. The HPA is a network of civil society organizations working to prevent and control noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).


“Replace [UPFs] with healthier choices like fresh fruits, vegetables, and home-cooked meals. A healthier diet will, in the long run, also save us from the economic burden of health care costs,” Tan added.


UPFs are foods that contain preservatives, emulsifiers as well as artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors. Among the most common are breakfast cereals, soda drinks, ice cream, hotdogs, corned beef, meat loaf, sausages and instant noodles.

Higher multimorbidity risk

Citing a multinational study published last year in The Lancet Regional Health-Europe medical journal, the HPA said that high consumption of UPFs is associated with higher risk of developing multimorbidity, or a combination of cancer and cardiometabolic diseases, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

The study examined more than 266,000 men and women from seven European countries who consumed UPFs that constituted more than half of their daily intake.

More importantly, according to the HPA, UPFs often contain high levels of sugar, sodium, and fats which are critical nutrients for NCDs, including cardiovascular diseases.

READ: Bongbong Marcos to singles: Take care of your heart

The group echoed the recommendation of the World Health Organization for governments to implement nutrition labeling such as “front-of-pack labeling”—or a simplified nutrition information on the front of food packages in addition to the mandatory nutrition labeling usually found at the back— as one of the ways to reduce unhealthy diet and lower the intake of sugar, sodium and fats.


“If the Philippines adopts front-of-pack labels, we are optimistic that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease can be reduced,” Tan said.

The HPA also encouraged Filipinos, even those below age 40, who regularly consume UPFs, to monitor their blood pressure and check for hypertension.

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TAGS: Heart, Valentine, Valentine’s Day

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