A UK report has found most Brits gain adequate levels of iron, but warned that the elderly, small children, girls, some women and the poor may be susceptible to deficiencies and should consider iron supplementation among other measures. “While most people in the UK are iron replete, health professionals need to be alert to increased risk of iron deficiency anaemia in toddlers, girls and women of reproductive age (particularly those from low income groups) and some adults aged over 65 years,” wrote the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA).
“Those with symptoms suggesting iron deficiency anaemia should receive appropriate clinical assessment and advice, including dietary advice on how to increase their iron intakes and to consider use of iron supplements if required.” The report updated COMA’s 1998 finding that high levels of red meat consumption were linked to colorectal cancer and also investigated the effects of reduced iron-rich red meat consumption. COMA concluded that a, “healthy balanced diet, which includes a variety of foods containing iron” is the best way to attain, “adequate iron status”.
“Such an approach is more important than consuming iron-rich foods at the same time as foods/drinks that enhance iron absorption (e.g., fruit juice, meat) or not consuming iron rich foods with those that inhibit iron absorption (e.g., tea, coffee, milk),” the committee said.
On the issue or red meat consumption COMA found that reduced red meat consumption levels would not cause widespread iron deficiencies. “Adults with relatively high intakes of red and processed meat (around 90 g/day or more) should consider reducing their intakes. A reduction to the UK population average for adult consumers (70 g/day cooked weight) would have little impact on the proportion of the adult population with low iron intakes.”
Current UK guidelines state that 3.2 oz (90g) is a healthy daily portion of red meat, and that only those who eat more than 5oz (140g) need to cut back. However some research has challenged these levels. A 2005 European study found those who regularly eat more than 5.6oz (160g) of red meat daily increase their risk of contracting bowel cancer by a third. In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund report in 2007 concluded that there was a link between red meat consumption and an increased risk of bowel cancer.
The COMA report follows research from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) which contradicts these recommendations
Women consuming too much red meat may have a higher risk of stroke than women eating less, says a new study. Red meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol; both are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests lowering saturated fat intake and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables to help reduce your risk of stroke. Writing in the journal Stroke, researchers examined nearly 35,000 Swedish women, ages 39 to 73. None of the women had heart disease prior to the start of the study in 1997.
After ten years, results showed 4% of the study participants, 1,680 women, had a stroke. Those consuming the most red meat had the highest risk of stroke. Women in the top tenth of red meat intake, consuming at least 3.6 ounces each day, were 42% more likely to have a stroke, compared to women who ate just under one ounce of red meat daily.
Eating processed meat also increased stroke risk. Women eating 1.5 ounces of processed meat each day were 24% more likely to suffer a cerebral infarction, compared to woman consuming less than half an ounce of processed meat each day. Processed meat was not linked to any other form of stroke. Cerebral infarction is a type of stroke caused by a disturbance in the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. Other types of stroke involve a rupturing of a blood vessel, called hemorrhagic strokes.
The scientists blame red meat and processed meat’s effect on raising blood pressure for the increased stroke risk. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year an estimated 17 million people die due to cardiovascular diseases, most notably stroke and heart attack. The WHO lists physical inactivity and unhealthy diet as the main risk factors for heart disease and major cardiac events.
Eating red meat and processed meats like bacon sharply increased heart disease risk in women, U.S. researchers say.Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston suggest eating healthier protein-rich foods — such as fish, poultry, low-fat dairy and nuts — instead of red and processed meats, may reduce heart disease risk.
“There are good protein-rich sources that do not involve red meat,” first author Dr. Adam Bernstein says in a statement. “You don't need to have hot dogs, hamburgers, bologna or pastrami, which are all fresh or processed meats.”
The study, published in the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, finds women having two servings per day of red meat had a 30 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who had half a serving per day.
The risk of heart disease was lowered 30 percent when a daily serving of red meat was replaced by nuts. Another red-meat replacement — fish — lowered cardiac risk 24 percent and poultry reduced heart risk by 19 percent.
Bernstein and colleagues examined medical history and lifestyle — including diet — for 84,136 women, ages 30-55, enrolled the Nurses' Health Study from 1980 to 2006. During the 26-year period, the researchers documented 2,210 non-fatal heart attacks and 952 deaths from coronary heart disease.
The new data come from an ongoing National Institutes of Health-AARP study and involved more than 300,000 participants. Researchers found that those study participants who reported eating the most processed meat had about a 30 percent greater risk of bladder cancer than those who ate the least.
What's more, those whose diets were highest in nitrites and nitrates (from processed meat as well as other sources) were about 33 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer than those whose diets contained the smallest amounts of these compounds.
Bladder cancer is currently the 10th most common cancer in the US, with over 70,000 cases diagnosed each year.
Link to Bladder Cancer Needs Confirmation; Link to Colorectal Cancer Convincing
The evidence that consumption of processed meat is linked to colorectal cancer was judged convincing by the independent expert panel behind the major AICR/WCRF report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.
This same report, published in 2007, found the evidence linking red and processed meat to bladder cancer too sparse to make a judgment. Although this new study's findings need to be confirmed, it represents a major contribution to the scientific literature on diet's role in bladder cancer.
Higginbotham noted that the AICR/WCRF report's findings are continually updated; data from this and other studies will be added to AICR/WCRF's database and are scheduled to be reassessed by independent experts in the future.
Until that time, AICR reiterates that for people who are concerned about cancer, there is already good reason to limit consumption of red meat and avoid processed meat.
Source: American Institute for Cancer Research
The researchers, led by Renata Micha, a research fellow in the department of epidemiology, and HSPH colleagues Dariush Mozaffarian, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and Sarah Wallace, junior research fellow in the department of epidemiology, systematically reviewed nearly 1,600 studies. Twenty relevant studies were identified, which included a total of 1,218,380 individuals from 10 countries on four continents (United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia).
The researchers defined unprocessed red meat as any unprocessed meat from beef, lamb or pork, excluding poultry. Processed meat was defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives; examples include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats. Vegetable or seafood protein sources were not evaluated in these studies.
The results showed that, on average, each 50 gram (1.8 oz) daily serving of processed meat (about 1-2 slices of deli meats or 1 hot dog) was associated with a 42% higher risk of developing heart disease and a 19% higher risk of developing diabetes. In contrast, eating unprocessed red meat was not associated with risk of developing heart disease or diabetes. Too few studies evaluated the relationship between eating meat and risk of stroke to enable the researchers to draw any conclusions.
“Although cause-and-effect cannot be proven by these types of long-term observational studies, all of these studies adjusted for other risk factors, which may have been different between people who were eating more versus less meats,” said Mozaffarian. “Also, the lifestyle factors associated with eating unprocessed red meats and processed meats were similar, but only processed meats were linked to higher risk.”
“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. In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, 4 times more sodium and 50% more nitrate preservatives,” said Micha. “This suggests that differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats.”
Dietary sodium (salt) is known to increase blood pressure, a strong risk factor for heart disease. In animal experiments, nitrate preservatives can promote atherosclerosis and reduce glucose tolerance, effects which could increase risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Given the differences in health risks seen with eating processed meats versus unprocessed red meats, these findings suggest that these types of meats should be studied separately in future research for health effects, including cancer, the authors said. For example, higher intake of total meat and processed meat has been associated with higher risk of colorectal cancer, but unprocessed red meat has not been separately evaluated. They also suggest that more research is needed into which factors (especially salt and other preservatives) in meats are most important for health effects.
Current efforts to update the United States government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are often a reference for other countries around the world, make these findings particularly timely, the researchers say. They recommend that dietary and policy efforts should especially focus on reducing intake of processed meat.
“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating. Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid,” said Micha. “Based on our findings, eating one serving per week or less would be associated with relatively small risk.”
The study, in the journal Circulation, looked at 20 relevant studies involving more than one million adults from 10 countries. Each week, the average American eats five 50-gram servings of processed meats. (A 50-gram serving is equivalent to one or two slices of deli meat or one hot dog.)
Micha said these products are likely a heart disease and diabetes hazard not because of their saturated fat and cholesterol content, which was similar to unprocessed red meat, but because they contain four times more sodium and 50 per cent more nitrate preservatives.
Peter Liu, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and a cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, lauded the findings. “What they have found is that not all meats are created equal,” he said.
“I think now, particularly with more concern about obesity in the population, and the high salt content in our food . . . that one may actually want to make a distinction between the food that is 'natural' versus food that has been processed,” Liu said.
Liu said the food industry has been trying to reduce sodium, trans fats and preservatives in their products, but that meat companies may be encouraged to cut the amount of preservatives in processed meat further — essentially shortening a product's shelf life in order to make it healthier.
The study supports advice given by dietitians like Nastaran, who say luncheon meats, processed meats and sausages add sodium to the diet and should be consumed in moderation.
Processed meats should be avoided, Nastaran says. “Or, when you have them, make it a treat and have it few and far between.”
Micha stressed that in past research, meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk for some cancers, and that unprocessed red meat has not yet been independently evaluated for cancer risk.
“People should not use these findings as licence to eat as much unprocessed red meat as they like,” she said, but should instead eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts.
•Limit red meat (beef, pork, lamb and goat) to no more than 500 grams (16 1/2 ounces) cooked weight per week
•Select lean cuts and trim away visible fat before eating
•When possible, choose wild meat instead of meat that is raised for food
•Opt for low-temperature cooking methods — steam, stew and bake over frying, broiling and barbecuing
•When barbecuing, marinate meat first to reduce amount of cancer-causing substances by 80 to 90 per cent
•Eat very little if any cured or smoked meat like bacon, sausage, salami, hot dogs and bologna
Source: Dietitians of Canada
Ever wonder what happens to that nice, balanced lunch you packed for your child to take to school? Does it get eaten or traded or even tossed in the bin? Parents want kids to eat nutritious lunches, while kids want lunches that are fun and great-tasting. Never fear— you can improve the odds that your kids will eat what you pack and like it, too! Try these lunch-packing strategies:
Think variety. Try to include something from most of the Food Pyramid food groups in every lunch. Rotate choices to promote variety and prevent boredom. This also helps to ensure that lunch will provide about one-third of a child's daily nutrient needs.
Send what kids like. Ask your child to make a list of his/her favorite lunch ingredients from each Food Pyramid food group. Then use this list to create his/her lunch menus. Better yet, get him/her involved in the shopping and packing.
Break out of the peanut butter rut. Experiment with some new fillings for sandwiches, like low-fat lunchmeats, cheeses, grilled veggies or chicken, tuna and egg salad (see “Keep lunches safe” section below). And try using different types of breads, such as bagels, rolls, pita pockets, English muffins, raisin bread or waffles (use whole-grain varieties whenever you can). If your child is devoted to peanut butter, jazz it up with sliced bananas or apples, raisins, shredded carrots or granola.
Go beyond sandwiches. The options are endless. Send pasta salad made with fun-shaped, colored pastas. Make a pizza or quesadilla on a tortilla or pita round. Or roll meat and cheese slices in a flour tortilla to make a pinwheel sandwich. Leftovers are great too—like spaghetti, a chicken leg or a hearty soup, to name a few.
Got milk? Look for individual milk boxes at the grocery store. Milk tastes best when it is ice cold, so freeze the milk the night before, and by lunchtime it will be thawed, but chilled. Mini-cheese wedges, cheese cubes and cheese sticks are kid favorites, too. Yogurt and pudding cups make a nutritious dessert.
Play up the produce. Baby carrots, celery sticks, sweet pepper slices, cherry tomatoes and other crunchy veggies are great for dipping in low-fat ranch dressing, salsa or hummus (chickpea dip). Slice apples, pears or other fruits for dipping in low-fat vanilla or lemon yogurt. Make fruit kebabs with fresh fruit chunks on straws. Or send single-serve cups of fruit, apple sauce or dried fruits.
Pack some pizzazz. Kids love fun and surprises in their lunch. Be creative with shapes, colors, and themes. For example, pack a round meal—a bagel with veggie cream cheese, an orange, carrot rounds and jelly beans. Or cut sandwiches into puzzle pieces. Have a “red lunch” day with spaghetti, red grapes, strawberry milk and red fruit leather. Make a backward lunch with a sandwich made with the meat and cheese on the outside and a note written in reverse telling the child to eat dessert first. Throw in an extra touch with a love note, joke or comic strip.
Keep lunches safe. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use an insulated lunch box or small cooler. Include an ice pack or frozen bottle of water, juice or yogurt to help keep things cold. Use a Thermos™ to keep soups, casseroles or chili hot.
For more kid-friendly meal ideas speak to Nastaran.