Men And Women Over 50 Should Avoid Eating This Popular Dinner Food

Dinner has never been easier, thanks to technology and meal-delivery services. Rather than searching through dozens of cookbooks for that perfect meal, you can Google healthy (or not-so-healthy) recipes and have all the necessary ingredients at your doorstep in less than two hours. Or you can subscribe to a weekly meal kit and try interesting new meals made with fresh ingredients you assemble yourself.

Yet sometimes, when you're feeling exhausted, it's easier to get takeout from your favorite restaurant delivered. You might also rummage through your freezer for a ready-made pizza that can be ready in minutes. Frozen pizzas like DiGiorno are still relatively popular in the United States, bringing in more than a billion dollars in sales in 2022 (per Statista). Popularity aside, you might want to avoid frozen pizza, especially as you get older. A 2024 meta-analysis in the Journal of Neurology found that diets high in ultra-processed foods like frozen pizza have a 44% higher risk of developing dementia. Frozen pizza has many processed ingredients that can contribute to chronic conditions and increase your risk of early death.

The processed ingredients in frozen pizza

According to a 2019 article in Public Health Nutrition, you can see if a food is ultra-processed by checking the list of ingredients. Processed ingredients are those you typically won't find in your kitchen, including mechanically separated meats, hydrogenated oils, and additives to improve their shelf life. This includes pre-packaged pasta and pizza.

A double pepperoni fully stuffed crust pizza from DiGiorno uses enriched wheat flour, modified food starch, and enzymes among its ingredients. The pepperonis might sound tasty, but these processed meats have mechanically separated chicken, sodium nitrates, and preservatives such as BHA and BHT. It also contains an unspecified "bioengineered food ingredient," which means one of the ingredients was modified in the lab.

Per a 2022 article in the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who ate more ultra-processed foods had a 29% higher risk of mortality compared to people who ate more whole foods. Red meat and processed meats such as pepperoni are linked to a 15% higher risk of death. A 2021 analysis in Nutrients looked at how ultra-processed foods were linked to mortality from specific diseases. Diets high in ultra-processed foods can increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 50% and heart-caused deaths by 66%. How much ultra-processed food you eat matters. For each 10% increase in calories from ultra-processed food, your risk of early death from any cause increases by 15%.

Ultra-processed foods are linked to other conditions

You might want to toss out your unhealthy frozen dinners and other ultra-processed foods to avoid other health conditions, according to a 2020 meta-analysis in Nutrition Journal. Because many ultra-processed foods like frozen pizza are high in saturated fat and salt, it's no surprise that they increase your risk of hypertension by 21%. You'll also be 23% more likely to develop cerebrovascular diseases, which are conditions that affect the blood flow to the brain.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), take a look at how much ultra-processed food is in your diet. Ultra-processed foods increase your risk of IBS by 25%. Many ultra-processed foods are also high in sugar and low in fiber, and several studies have linked them with a risk of being overweight or obese. Your risk of overall cancer and postmenopausal breast cancer also goes up if your diet is high in ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed foods are also linked to a higher risk of asthma, depression, and metabolic syndrome.