Processed meat consumption is surging as Americans gobble up hot dogs, sausage and cold cuts in record numbers. We’re paying the ultimate price for this inexpensive, easy preparation food source as the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes have been conclusively linked to processed meat products.
The results of a large study published in Circulation clearly demonstrate that even small quantities of processed meats, as small as 2 ounces eaten daily, increases the risk of heart disease by 42% and diabetes by 19%. The two diseases account for 700,000 deaths annually in the US, a number which could be significantly decreased by making sensible dietary modifications.
Heart Disease Risk Can Be Slashed
The study was one of the first to separate processed meat products from unprocessed beef, pork or lamb. Based on this information, it’s possible to determine that the higher fat levels in meat are not the direct cause of increased disease risk. The high sodium and chemical preservative content of the processed meats are linked to the dramatic increased incidence previously associated with meat consumption in general.
Sodium is a known factor in heart disease as it increases blood pressure and causes changes to the blood’s ability to properly clot. People eating the highest amount of processed meats take in nearly three times the daily recommended amount of salt. Although this study did not find a direct link to heart disease from unprocessed meat consumption, it’s still advisable to moderate the amount of beef and pork as typical cooking methods lead to the accumulation of aging byproducts known as AGE’s (anti-glycation end products). Based on the results of this study, 300,000 lives could be spared each year by scaling back or eliminating processed meats.
Cancer Incidence Linked To Chemical Preservatives
Sodium Nitrite is the main preservative used in meat processing, and adds a healthy looking fleshy red color to the meat.Those consuming the highest amounts of nitrite through processed meats have shown a 67% increase in pancreatic cancer and a 74% increase in leukemia. Digestive cancers such as those of the stomach and colon are twice as common among those who eat the largest amount of processed meats.
We have not evolved to eat food which has been pumped full of preservative chemicals and sodium. Processed meats have been artificially manipulated to appeal to our taste with no regard to the mountain of evidence demonstrating it is slowly leading to our demise. Total meat consumption should be limited due to the excess calories and potential for weight gain, while processed meat products need to be eliminated from our diet, or minimized to an occasional treat. This study proves with sobering scientific fact that one small dietary change could have a large impact on the rest on our life.