For those looking for more reason that weight loss alone to steer clear of processed foods, lowering your intake of sausages, pies and TV dinners could make you live longer.
According to the results of a long-term study carried out by the University of Zurich in Switzerland, processed meat could not only have strong links with weight gain and obesity, but also increase the risk of cancer and heart disease. Of the half million people included in the study, data indicated that those consuming large quantities of meat products are statistically more likely to die at younger ages.
Rather alarmingly, processed meat consumers appeared to be at a 44% higher risk of early death than those with lower consumption levels. Premature death rates were seen to rise steadily in accordance with the level of processed meat consumption.
The main causes of death for those consuming excessive amounts of processes meats were heart disease which was increased in risk by 72% and cancers at 11%.
Leading the study, Professor Sabine Rohrmann reported that “Risks of dying earlier from cancer and cardiovascular disease also increased with the amount of processed meat eaten.
“Overall, we estimate that 3% of premature deaths each year could be prevented if people ate less than 20 grams of processed meat per day.”
The news follows the increasingly widespread horsemeat scandal that has prompted millions the world over to more closely scrutinize the processed foods they buy and consume.
Data produced following the study also highlighted the way in which those who ate larger volumes of processed meat were also more inclined to lead unhealthy lifestyles. Men in particular were found to have higher alcohol intakes, while both sexes ate considerably less fruits and vegetables and smoked more cigarettes.
“Red meat can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet,” the researchers advised.
“Opting for leaner cuts and using healthier cooking methods such as grilling will help to keep your heart healthy. If you eat lots of processed meat, try to vary your diet with other protein choices such as chicken, fish, beans or lentils.”