Processed meats boost health risks

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Eating bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed meats can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that identifies the real bad boys of the meat counter.

Eating unprocessed beef, pork or lamb appeared not to raise risks of heart attacks and diabetes, they said, suggesting that salt and chemical preservatives may be the real cause of these two health problems associated with eating meat.

The study, an analysis of other research called a meta-analysis, did not look at high blood pressure or cancer, which are also linked with high meat consumption.

“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating,” said Renata Micha of the Harvard School of Public Health, whose study appears in the journal Circulation.

“Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid,” Micha said in a statement.

Based on her findings, she said people who eat one serving per week or less of processed meats have less of a risk.

The American Meat Institute objected to the findings, saying it was only one study and that it stands in contrast to other studies and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“At best, this hypothesis merits further study. It is certainly no reason for dietary changes,” James Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute, said in a statement.

Most dietary guidelines recommend eating less meat. Individual studies looking at relationships between eating meat and cardiovascular diseases and diabetes have had mixed results.

But studies rarely look for differences in risk between processed and unprocessed red meats, Micha said.

She and colleagues did a systematic review of nearly 1,600 studies from around the world looking for evidence of a link between eating processed and unprocessed red meat and the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

They defined processed meat as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives. Meats in this category included bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats.

Unprocessed red meat included beef, lamb or pork but not poultry.

They found that on average, each 1.8 oz (50 grams) daily serving of processed meat a day — one to two slices of deli meats or one hot dog — was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.

They found no higher heart or diabetes risk in people who ate only unprocessed red meats.

The team adjusted for a number of factors, including how much meat people ate. They said lifestyle factors were similar between those who ate processed and unprocessed meats.

“When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol,” Micha said.

“In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, four times more sodium and 50 percent more nitrate preservatives,” Micha added.

Last month, the Institute of Medicine urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt added to foods to help Americans cut their high sodium intake.

The FDA has not yet said whether it will regulate salt in foods, but it is looking at the issue.

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The friendly side of certain fats

The guidelines for fat intake are that we consume no more than 20 – 35 % of calories from fat.

A little fat in food adds more than flavor to your meal. It also helps satisfy your hunger by making you feel full after eating. Why? Because fats take longer to leave your stomach than either carbohydrates or proteins do.
 

A certain amount of body fat serves several functions: to cushion and position your body organs, to protect your bones from injury and to form a layer under your skin. This fat layer offers insulation, helping you stay warm. And the soft fat pads on your buttocks and the palms of your hands protect your bones from bumps, bangs and jolts.  A VERY useful chart follows so make sure to read the rest of this article. [Read more...]

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Sludge in your tank?

By Lori Drummond, R.D., L.D.
GoodHealthConsulting LLC founder

Do you have sludge in your tank?

Sludge…in the gallbladder, that is?

The gall bladder is our holding tank for bile.

Gallbladder sludge, a/k/a, biliary sludge, is “a common term that is applied to an abnormality of bile … of the gallbladder.” Specifically, the bile within the gallbladder contains microscopic particles, usually cholesterol or pigment, embedded in mucus secreted by the gallbladder. Over time, sludge may remain in the gallbladder, it may disappear and not return, or it may come and go.” (Medicinenet.com)

Ever wonder if you have sludge? Or gallstones? [Read more...]

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Do the math, prevent the gain

Here is a simple article to help you balance your bread intake with your weight management goals. You don’t need a genius IQ to manage this topic. Just some self-discipline since good bread is SO good to the taste.

Johns Hopkins University

By Margaret Furtado, M.S., R.D. 

Those super-heavy, “all-natural” loaves of bread may look and sound like they’re healthy, but their density signals that they probably contain more calories than most other loaves. Plus, they’re typically made with simple sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and maltose that will add even more calories.

If you’re watching your weight and wondering, “Can I eat bread?”–don’t despair. I’m here to tell you that you really can have your bread and eat it too without automatically putting on weight. There’s a simple rule–the weight and starch connection–that will help you choose a loaf wisely.

What’s the weight and starch connection?  [Read more...]

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Junk food alters gut bacteria in one day

What type of microbacteria are lurking in your gut? The following article by Dr. Gabe Mirkin of www.DrMirkin.com demonstrates amazing evidence that a diet consisting of high sugar, high fat and processed foods significantly affects our bacterial gut health. This could be one of the pieces of the puzzle in explaining the mystery of why many seekers of weight loss struggle to lose the pounds even when they eat less.

After just one day of switching from a plant-based diet to a high-fat-and-sugar diet, mice with human intestinal bacteria developed bacteria associated with obesity in humans, and soon became grossly obese (Science Translational Medicine, November 11, 2009)

Dr. Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University in St Louis first showed that certain types of bacteria in the human intestinal tract can break down food more efficiently and help you absorb a greater percentage of calories from the food that you eat. He also showed that humans whose intestinal tracts are dominated by these bacteria tend to be overweight. [Read more...]

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Beans do more than you think

One thing I’ll never forget and often share with clients is a line from one of my college professors. She would always say, “A day without a bean is a bad day.” Our student dietetic association even used this line for our T-shirts!

Tip of the week — A New Twist on an Old Saying

Beans, beans, the magical fruit! The more you eat, the more you … may reduce your cholesterol.

It may not be as catchy as the popular children’s rhyme, but beans (that are actually vegetables) may indeed be magical for your health. Rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, folate and iron, popular dried beans include black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, pink beans and pinto beans.

The 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 3 cups of dried beans per week to reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 16 percent. Most Americans eat about a third of this amount. Recent research shows eating one-half cup of pinto beans daily can reduce serum cholesterol by 8 percent.

Full of complex carbohydrates yet fat-free, beans can play a role in weight management by making you feel full without a lot of calories.

Beans are a great source of insoluble and soluble fiber, with 6-8 grams in a half-cup. They promote a healthy digestive tract, may reduce your risk of some types of cancer and can help control diabetes and maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

Produced by American Dietary Association

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