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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

New study links eating ‘ultra-processed’ foods to increased chances of early death

Published in For the Health of It Author: Jessica George

Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center

February is Heart Month and as good a time as ever to be thoughtful about what we eat and how that affects our health.

With that in mind, it’s not news that a diet high in pre-packaged foods isn’t healthy. But a recent medical study supports some of our concerns. That the more “ultra-processed” foods you eat, the higher your chances of early death. The study followed middle-aged adults in France from 2009 through 2017. Those who ate 10 percent more of these foods had a 14 percent increase in death during this time.

To clarify, “ultra-processed” foods are those that have undergone changes to make them ready-to-eat, drink or heat and are designed to have a long shelf life. Some examples of “ultra-processed” foods include:

  • Soft drinks
  • Ice cream
  • Mass-produced packaged breads and buns
  • Cookies, pastries and cakes
  • Pre-prepared pasta and pizza dishes
  • Reconstituted meat products — such as burgers, hot dogs and sausages

These foods often contain additives or hydrogenated oils. They generally also contain high amounts of salt or sodium — which is known to increase blood pressure. And having high blood pressure is linked to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

The study’s authors acknowledge that more research needs to be done to confirm these findings. But as much as possible, we should:

  • Be selective in what foods we purchase. Recognize that some processed foods are OK, such as pre-prepped plain fruits, vegetables and grains. But others — like those listed above — are heavily processed and contain very little — or no — natural foods. Learn more about the different ranges of processed foods.
  • Favor diets that contain a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy and lean meats and proteins.
  • Opt for milk and water instead of soft drinks.
  • Choose homemade desserts instead of pre-made ones from the store.

The healthy changes we make today can make a real difference years from now.