From breakfast sausages to frankfurters, sausage products are a staple in many diets around the world. But are they good fuel for your body? They contain vitamins, minerals, and important macronutrients like protein, which make them a good source of nutrition. However, they also contain high salt levels, preservatives like monosodium glutamate, and are made of red meat, which is not healthy food. So, is sausage bad for you?
In this article, we will see all the reasons you should be careful with eating sausages daily and why it is a good treat to have now and then. The high consumption of sausages can increase cardiovascular disease risk because they contain saturated fats, monosodium glutamate, and high salt. They could increase your risk of cancer as well. But they contain several essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. So, let’s see in detail all pros and cons of sausages.
Health Considerations of Sausages
Red meat is not a healthy food
Red meat can be part of your diet but should only make up a small portion of it. Your daily protein should come from a blend of legumes, dairy products, fish, and red meat (1). High consumption of red meat has been associated with higher cardiovascular disease rates (primarily due to the high-fat content), cancer development, and all-cause mortality (2). A recent large-scale study confirmed previous findings that eating high amounts of red meat is associated with higher rates of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer (3).
Red meat consumption could triple your risk of heart disease
Studies performed by Cleveland Clinic suggest that a high intake of red meat, like those found in sausages, significantly increases your risk of developing heart disease. The additives and high-fat content are primarily responsible for this effect (4, 5). While you don’t have to strike all red meat from the menu, ensure you are getting your protein from various sources, rather than red meat exclusively. Also, remember that a serving of red meat is a few ounces, approximately the size of your palm or a deck of cards (our routine portion sizes are much larger than they should be) (6).
Sausage meats contain nitrite and nitrate
Nitrite is a curing agent that can improve the flavor and color of meats and prevent bacterial contamination. However, it has also been associated with cancer development and is unhealthy for us (7, 8). Try to find sources of sausage meat that do not contain nitrite-based additives (9).
Ground meats are high in fat
Ground meats, like those that makeup sausages, are high in fat (10). Ground or minced fatty tissues reduce the cost of producing and improve the taste, making those sizzling sausages that we love. The fat in these tissues is mostly saturated fat, which is one of the worst kinds for your health. Saturated fatty acids are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and potentially stroke as well (though this remains a topic of debate) because they can clog your arteries and blood vessels (11). The fact is that we don’t fully understand how saturated fat is bad for your body, and the topic remains debatable (12). In any case, it’s a good idea not to have an excessive intake of fats of any kind, saturated or unsaturated. Dietary health is all about balance and making sure you have moderate amounts of all foods.
Other foods seem healthy, but they have hidden fats. Check out “10 Foods With Hidden Fats.”
Sausages are high in salt
One of the things we like most about sausages is their salty taste. However, sodium intake is strongly associated with high blood pressure. Some foods can increase your blood flow; read “14 Foods That Increase Blood Flow.” Because blood pressure is maintained by the amount of fluid in your blood vessels and arteries, excessive dietary salt reduces the fluid volume, making it harder for your body to pump blood from your heart all over your body (13). Sodium also affects our cellular health, dehydrating the cells that make up our organ systems and tissues. Because our body is over 70% water and excessive salt is a dehydrator, getting too much isn’t healthy (14).
Some sausages are preserved with monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer added to many foods that has been associated with toxicity and a variety of diseases (including obesity and metabolic disorders). Many research studies have been performed calling for a ban on the use of MSG in foods due to these negative health associations (15). Check the ingredient list for MSG in your cured meats to ensure you reduce your consumption of this additive as much as possible.
A Positive Note – Some Health Benefits of Sausages
Sausages do contain important nutrients for health
Red meats contain many essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals (16). For example, iron (which is needed for providing oxygen to our cells and maintenance of organ health) and zinc (which is required for cellular metabolism, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and immune function) levels are high in red meat and can help supplement your diet (17, 18, 19). Red meat provides an inexpensive protein source for many (like ground meats and sausages) and provides key nutrients needed for health (20).
In conclusion, Is sausage bad for you?
Sausages aren’t the best way to get your protein daily. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their place in your overall diet. Enjoy these salty treats now and then (along with the protein, vitamins, and minerals they offer), but be aware of red meat, preservative, and salt intake. Try to select sausages that are lower in these ingredients as a healthier option.