Associations of ultra-processed food consumption, circulating protein biomarkers, and risk of cardiovascular disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: We aim to examine the association between ultra-processed foods (UPF) consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and to identify plasma proteins associated with UPF. Methods: This prospective cohort study included 26,369 participants from the Swedish Malmö Diet and Cancer Study, established in 1991–1996. Dietary intake was assessed using a modified diet history method, and UPF consumption was estimated using the NOVA classification system. A total of 88 selected CVD-related proteins were measured among 4475 subjects. Incident CVD (coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke) was defined as a hospital admission or death through registers. Cox proportional hazards regression models were performed to analyze the associations of UPF intake with risks of CVD. Linear regression models were used to identify the plasma proteins associated with UPF intake. Results: During 24.6 years of median follow-up, 6236 participants developed CVD, of whom 3566 developed coronary heart disease and 3272 developed ischemic stroke. The adjusted hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) in the 4th versus 1st quartile of UPF was 1.18 (1.08, 1.29) for CVD, 1.20 (1.07, 1.35) for coronary heart disease, and 1.17 (1.03, 1.32) for ischemic stroke. Plasma proteins interleukin 18, tumor necrosis factor receptor 2, macrophage colony-stimulating factor 1, thrombomodulin, tumor necrosis factor receptor 1, hepatocyte growth factor, stem cell factor, resistin, C–C motif chemokine 3, and endothelial cell-specific molecule 1 were positively associated with UPF after correcting for multiple testing. Conclusions: Our study showed that high UPF intake increased the risk of CVD and was associated with several protein biomarkers. Future studies are warranted to validate these findings and assess the potential pathways between UPF intake and CVD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number415
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems

Free keywords

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Plasma protein
  • Ultra-processed foods


Dive into the research topics of 'Associations of ultra-processed food consumption, circulating protein biomarkers, and risk of cardiovascular disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this