Health Risks Of Eating Too Much Sausages

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1. Cancer Risk

Processed meat is any meat that has been treated for preservation or flavor, including processes such as salting, curing, smoking and fermenting, per the American Cancer Society.

Sausage is a type of processed meat, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) classifies as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. What’s more, the agency considers unprocessed red meat a probable carcinogen, something that probably causes cancer.

People who ate 76 grams (about the size of one sausage link) of red and processed meat every day were observed to have a 20 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer than those who ate just 21 grams of red and processed meat in an April 2019 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology. For every daily 25-gram serving of processed meat, equal to about a slice of bacon or ham, the risk of colorectal cancer rose by 19 percent.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends eating little, if any, processed meat for cancer prevention.

2. Excess Saturated Fat

Sausage tends to be high in saturated fat that raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, with beef and pork sausage typically containing the most and chicken or turkey sausage containing the least.

Three ounces of beef sausage has 12.7 grams of saturated fat, or 63 percent of your DV. The same serving of turkey sausage, on the other hand, contains 1.9 grams of saturated fat — or 10 percent of your DV.

“If a food contains more than 20 percent of your daily value of saturated fat per serving, it is considered to be high in it,” Blake says. “If you eat more saturated fat with food like sausage, think about how you can balance it out over the course of a day or week by consuming less saturated fat at other meals.”

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3. Excess Sodium

It’s easy to load up on sodium when eating processed foods like sausage. Most Americans already eat too much sodium, which can raise blood pressure — a major risk for heart disease and stroke, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Plus, the more salt you eat, the more calcium your body loses through urination. This means if you have a short supply of calcium in your blood, it can leach out of your bones. A high-sodium diet could, in turn, contribute to bone-weakening osteoporosis, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The AICR concluded that foods preserved by salting are a “probable cause of stomach cancer.” Particularly when accompanied by ‌H. pylori‌ bacteria, salt-preserved foods like meat and fish irritate the stomach lining over time in a way that makes the cancer process more probable.

Three ounces of Italian sausage contains 624.1 milligrams of sodium, or 26 percent of your DV — so if your meal only contains 1 ounce of diced sausage for flavor, you’ll only get 1/3 of this sodium amount.

It’s important to read the nutrition facts label to determine how much sodium you’re taking in. While sodium is typically associated with the salt shaker, more than 70 percent of sodium Americans eat comes from processed and restaurant foods, per the CDC.

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4. Calorie Intake

Moderation is key for weight management or weight loss, and this is particularly true of high-fat foods like sausage. Fat contains more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein, and eating too much sausage can lead to weight gain.

Three ounces of Italian sausage contains 22.9 grams of total fat, which equates to 206 calories. That’s 71 percent of the calories in that serving of sausage.

5. Nitrates and Nitrites

Nitrates and nitrites are chemical compounds often added as preservatives to processed meat like sausage. In your body, these can transform into compounds that may play a role in cancer risk, but more research is needed to confirm this link.

You may see “no nitrates added” processed meats at the store, which typically only means they’re preserved with celery juice (celery is rich in naturally occurring nitrate), per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

What’s more, these meats can still contain other carcinogenic compounds such as PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which are formed during the smoking process, as well as heme iron, which can support the formation of carcinogenic compounds in the body.

Until more is known about the relationship between processed meat and cancer, it’s best to think of “nitrate-free” processed meats like other processed meats and limit intake, per the university.

6. Drug Interactions

Foods that are aged or smoked like salami and dry sausage contain tyramine, an amino acid that could cause a blood pressure spike when taken with linezolid (Zyvox), used to treat bacterial infections, or MAO inhibitors, according to Consumer Reports.

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Be sure to discuss any medication and food interactions with your health care professional.

7. Allergies

Although uncommon, more cases of meat allergy have been reported in the past few years. Meat from any mammal (beef, lamb, pork and so forth) and even poultry like chicken or turkey can cause an allergic reaction.

A meat allergy may develop at any time in life, and is sometimes caused by a bite from the Lone Star tick, found predominantly in the Southeastern states, per the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

See an allergist if you suspect you have a meat allergy. Food allergies can cause severe and life-threatening symptoms, and you may need to avoid meat and carry epinephrine with you.

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