At Foodfacts.com we like to present you with education and research pertaining to what we consider controversial ingredients. Here is a recent article featuring a study done on phosphates and heart disease.
Here’s another reason to bypass those packaged mini-muffins at the gas station: Foods high in phosphates—including biscuits, cakes, sweets, some dairy products, energy drinks, and some meats—could contribute to heart disease, according to researchers at the University of Sheffield in the U.K.
The researchers fed three groups of mice either a low-phosphate, moderate-phosphate, or high-phosphate diet. After 20 weeks, they examined the animals’ arteries and found 40 percent more arterial swelling and congestion—signs of heart disease—in the high-phosphate as opposed to the low-phosphate diet.
So what are phosphates? They’re chemicals that are often used as food additives: They make baked goods fluffier, help lunch meats stay moist and tender, and help cheese keep its shape, among hundreds of other uses.
You don’t need to avoid phosphates completely, since your body needs some phosphorous to build and repair teeth and bones. (Good news, since phosphates are in just about everything.) But nutritionists have long suspected what the English researchers have now confirmed: Too much phosphate in your diet could lead to heart disease.
Phosphates in your blood cause your body to release phosphate-lowering hormones, the study authors write. And studies have linked high levels of those hormones to cardiovascular illness.
Scientists still aren’t sure whether the phosphate-lowering hormones or the phosphates themselves cause your heart problems; it’s the old chicken-egg conundrum. But either way, taking steps to reduce the amount of phosphate in your diet is probably a good idea.
To cut down on phosphates, avoid overly processed and prepackaged foods, which tend to have the highest levels. (Click here for a list of high-phosphate foods from the Mayo Clinic.) Also avoid organ meats, such as kidney, liver, or offal. Shop at either end of the grocery store, where you’ll typically find the fresh produce, butcher meats, and fish.