Processed Meats Can Have Health Risks
By Cary Aspinwall, Tulsa World, Okla.May 22--A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating processed meats -- such as bacon, sausage or deli meat -- is associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of type-2 diabetes.Researchers did not find any higher risk of heart disease or diabetes among individuals eating unprocessed red meat -- i.e. cuts of beef, pork or lamb.So put down the sausage and pick up the steaks?Not exactly, said Suzanne Forsberg, registered dietitian with St. John Healthy Lifestyles program."We like to pinpoint one thing and take it too far," she said. "It takes two to tango -- it's not just one thing. (Heart health) includes exercise, stress and time management -- there so many things that go into it."The study demonstrated the risks of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes associated with eating processed meats, which are sometimes lower in cholesterol than unprocessed meats -- but usually always higher in sodium.The researchers defined unprocessed red meat as any unprocessed meat from beef, lamb or pork, excluding poultry.Processed meat was defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives; examples include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats. Vegetable or seafood protein sources were not evaluated in the study.Most Americans need to eat less salt, so eating less sodium-ladenprocessed meat is a good thing, as is avoiding meat products with added nitrates, Forsberg said.But if you remove processed meats from your diet yet don't change your stress level, exercise regularly or reduce your intake of high-fat foods (such as cheese), you could still be at risk for heart disease, she said."There's so much more to it besides just the food," she said.Focus on moderation, portion control and alternative sources of protein such as beans, nuts and eggs."I love the incredible, edible egg," Forsberg said. Eggs get a bad reputation because they're usually paired with fat- and bad-cholesterol-laden things like cheese, sausage and bacon.And for anyone facing heart disease or diabetes, bacon and sausage should be "off the table," or a very rare indulgence, she said.Practice moderation with meat in your diet by not pairing it with cheese (too much fat and cholesterol for one meal), sticking to palm-size portions of leaner cuts of meat and incorporating beans and lentils into your diet.For people with certain heart disease and kidney problems, a vegetarian diet may be the best option, she said.Cary Aspinwall 581-8477 email@example.com-----To see more of the Tulsa World, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.tulsaworld.com.Copyright (c) 2010, Tulsa World, Okla.Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.For reprints, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.A service of YellowBrix, Inc.