Even though more and more people in Germany are eating vegetarian or even vegan food, the consumption of meat products like sausage and ham is huge at 27.3 kilograms per capita in this country in 2020. On average , that’s 75 grams of processed meat per day, but the average is misleading: as more and more people go meatless altogether (12% in 2021) or have at least drastically reduced their meat consumption (55%) , the remaining third of consumers still significantly higher amounts. And since young women and men under the age of 30 in particular do not eat meat, this affects older consumers all the more. For them it’s charcuterie integral part of dinner. It has been proven since 2010 that processed meat can cause cancer.
All meat products that have been modified by processes such as salting, smoking, aging or fermentation are considered processed meat. These include, for example, ham and sausages.
Study: Those who eat a lot of sausages die earlier
Harvard University scientists found in 2012 that people who eat a lot of processed meat die earlier. For your study, researchers analyzed the diets of 37,698 men and 83,644 women over a period of up to 26 years. Although cardiovascular disease and cancer were excluded in all subjects beforehand, nearly 6,000 participants died from cardiovascular disease and more than 9,000 from cancer.
The results were clear:
- Who every day a portion Red meat eats, their risk of death increases by 13%.
- who every day processed meat eats increases the risk of death by up to 20%.
The effect depends on the dose:
- With every additional 50 grams of processed meat per day, the risk increases further.
- Study participants who replaced a meat dish with other proteins such as fish, dairy or legumes reduced their mortality rate.
Statistically, almost 17% of study participants could have avoided their death from cardiovascular disease or cancer if they had reduced their consumption of processed red meat.
Processed meat: studies show a risk
In the meantime, numerous international studies have confirmed the results and proven in many cases that eating processed meat is unhealthy. Time and time again, consumption has been shown to increase the incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
so busy Looking at nearly 1,600 studies conducted by researchers at the Harvard University School of Public Health, 50 grams per day of processed meat increases the risk of heart disease by up to 42% and increases the likelihood of diabetes by about 19%.
Especially in the case of stomach and colon cancers, the link has been so clearly demonstrated that the World Health Organization (WHO) has placed processed meat in the same risk category as tobacco, asbestos and alcohol – as “carcinogenic to humans”.
Why does processed meat make you sick?
It has not yet been researched why processed meat causes disease, what exactly is the decisive factor or whether several unhealthy properties interact. Three guesses:
- Processed meats are often marinated or salted. In the body, nitrate forms carcinogens with stomach acid nitrosamines.
- Another factor is the preparation: arise with very hot pan-fried or grilled meats Aromatic hydrocarbons and amines. They are also considered carcinogenic.
- There’s a lot in the sausage saturated fatwhich probably in combination with carbohydrates have an adverse effect on blood lipids.
How much sausage to eat?
Recommend so far the The German Nutrition Society (DGE) still recommends the consumption of a maximum of 300-600 grams of meat and meat products per week, or 42-85 grams per day. In view of the risks known for many years, nutritionists consider this far too much and recommend a maximum of 20 grams per day. It’s roughly the equivalent of a thin slice of ham.
How healthy are sausage alternatives?
Instead of sausages and ham, cheese is often used for dinner. Indeed, compared to processed meat, dairy products are considered less harmful, but in moderation. It should not exceed 50 grams. It also depends on the preparation of the cheese. For example, cottage cheese is considered healthier than sliced cheese.
Vegetarian and vegan deli meat substitutes are based on protein sources such as milk, eggs, soy, seitan, peas or lupins. Even though they are less harmful than sausage and ham, there are big differences in the processing and additives used in these products. Nutritionists advise to rarely consume products with particularly long ingredient lists.
Vegetable spreads such as tomato paste, avocado or hummus are ideal and can be prepared without much effort.