Love to throw a little sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto, or other processed meat into your meals? While they all might taste absolutely delicious, it might be time to cut down on them a bit. New research shows that processed meat could negatively impact your cardiovascular system over time.
According to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, even just a little bit of processed meat every week can cause an uptick in your risk of heart disease. The study took place over the course of 10 years and analyzed the diets of over 134,000 participants from 21 countries. Researchers looked specifically at cardiovascular health of those subjects and their meat intake.
Taking all of that data into account, what they found was that people who had as few as five ounces of processed meat every week — the equivalent of two sausages — increased their risk of heart disease by 46 percent. Moreover, higher processed meat consumption, which included anything salted or cured, was also linked to increased risk of death in general by 51 percent.
Interestingly, scientists also found that unprocessed forms of meat, such as poultry, beef, and pork, had a neutral impact on people’s health. That doesn’t mean that you can eat them in excess, however; it just mean that the same drastic health effects as processed meat weren’t observed.
The study’s authors believe that a huge reason for all of processed meat’s strain on the heart lies in how much salt these foods contain in addition to the numerous preservatives that are added to many of them to increase shelf life. In particular, long-term excess sodium has been linked to heart disease, weight gain, and other health complications over time.
Plant-based diets are all the rage right now, but if you’re a meat lover who still wants to indulge a little bit every week, it’s best to stick to those unprocessed meat options and fish as opposed to sausage, pepperoni, or something else. And that said, a little processed meat every once in a while is OK!