Processed food consumption associated with nighttime BP dipping

February 24, 2023

2 min read

The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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High consumption of processed foods was associated with greater variability in systolic BP during sleep and greater odds of extreme nocturnal dipping, researchers reported.

Unprocessed food intake was tied to lower odds of extreme nocturnal dipping, the researchers wrote in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.

Ultra-processed foods
High consumption of processed foods was associated with greater variability in systolic BP during sleep and greater odds of extreme nocturnal dipping.
Image: Adobe Stock

The researchers aimed to evaluate the association between food consumption by degree of processing and ambulatory BP, using the NOVA classification to categorize foods into four groups, according to the degree and purpose of their processing: unprocessed or minimally processed; processed culinary ingredients; processed; and ultra-processed foods.

“Researchers have investigated the relationship between food consumption according to the degree of food processing and several health outcomes,” Jessica Benatti Ribeiro, of the department of nutrition and health at the Federal University of Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and colleagues wrote. “However, evidence about its association with BP shows that the results are still contradictory, while the assessment of this relationship from ambulatory BP monitoring data has not yet been reported.”

In a cross-sectional analysis, Ribeiro and colleagues analyzed data from 815 participants in the second wave of the ELSA-Brasil study, conducted in six Brazilian cities, who underwent 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM) and face-to-face interviews (50.7% women). Researchers assessed systolic and diastolic BP means and variability during the 24 hours, sleep and wake periods, nocturnal dipping and morning surge. Food consumption was classified according to NOVA.

“The unprocessed/minimally processed foods group included foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, rice, beans, among others, as well as culinary ingredients such as butter,” the researchers wrote. “In processed foods, examples are white and yellow cheeses, beer, and bread roll; and in ultra-processed foods, foods such as cakes and sweet biscuits, sugar-sweetened drinks, pizza and snacks and instant noodles were included.

“The food consumption of each of the NOVA groups was considered as a percentage in relation to the total daily caloric intake and categorized into tertiles,” they wrote.

Within the cohort, the mean consumption of unprocessed/minimally processed foods and culinary ingredients was 63.1% of daily caloric intake, 10.8% of daily caloric intake was processed foods and 24.8% of daily caloric intake was ultra-processed foods.

In adjusted models, the consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed foods was negatively associated with extreme dipping in the second tertile (OR = 0.56; 95% CI, 0.55- 0.58) and third tertile (OR = 0.55; 95% CI, 0.54-0.57).

The highest consumption tertile for processed foods was associated with greater odds of extreme dipping (OR = 1.34; 95% CI, 1.29-1.39). The consumption of ultra-processed foods was negatively associated with a non-dipping pattern (tertile 2 OR = 0.68; 95% CI, 0.55- 0.85) and with extreme dipping (tertile 2 OR = 0.63; 95% CI, 0.61-0.65; tertile 3 OR = 0.95; 95% CI, 0.91-0.99).

Researchers did not find any associations between food consumption according to the degree of processing and morning BP surge.

“These findings reinforce the importance of promoting an adequate and healthy diet and emphasize the relevance of using ABPM in research, as it allows the investigation of relevant markers that cannot be assessed by casual measurement,” the researchers wrote. “Further studies in the ELSA-Brasil cohort will enable enhanced assessment of how these alterations in the circadian pattern of BP favor the increase in arterial stiffness and other cardiovascular outcomes.”

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