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What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Sausage

Grilling season is officially upon us!

Firing up the grill this summer? While there are plenty of grilling recipes you can make during the warmer months, there are always a few tried-and-true foods to throw on the grill that everyone loves: burgers, hot dogs, and sausages. While having these foods once in a blue moon won't make a difference for your health, if you're eating processed meats regularly, you could be experiencing some not-so-great side effects down the line. This is why it's important to know what happens to your body when you eat sausage on a regular basis.

We turned to the latest research on processed meats and what you should know when you consume them. So before you get that grill going this summer, be sure to read up on what happens to your body when you eat sausage. Then, why not cook up one of these 33 Best Grilling Recipes on the Planet?

Your risk of disease increases.

Grilled sausage and hot dogs

Most sausage is considered processed meat, and regardless of the type of meat in it, eating any type of processed meat can increase your risk of a few chronic diseases. Yes—even chicken sausage and turkey sausage are on this list.

According to a study published by the University of Zurich, people who eat a higher amount of processed meat regularly will run a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer. It's all due to the carcinogenic substances (like nitrosamines) from processing.

However, one note to focus on in the study is how the participants ate 40 grams of processed meat a day, which is a lot of processed meat to consume on a regular basis. The study ends by saying that you should eat fewer than 20 grams of processed meat a day.

Along with processed meats, here are 50 Foods That Have Been Linked to Heart Disease.

You'll get some protein.

turkey sausage

All sausage is still considered a source of protein, and having a sufficient amount of protein in your diet is important for your health and even for your weight. Protein is also a macronutrient that helps you to feel fuller for longer, which is why it's important to eat enough of it in a day. The average sausage link could range between 16 to 20 grams of protein.

However, while sausage does have protein in it, not all sausage would be defined as a lean protein. Mixing in some of the lean proteins into your diet is crucial, like chicken and fish.

You'll consume a lot of sodium.

Andouille sausage

Most sausage products are incredibly high in sodium, and eating a diet high in sodium can do enough damage on your health alone. One study published by JAMA showed how a diet higher in sodium can increase the risk of cardiovascular events and heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) says you shouldn't go over 2,300 milligrams of sodium in a day, with an ideal limit of 1,500 milligrams in order to avoid high blood pressure, which is a crucial factor for your heart health.

According to the USDA, on average, a normal link of sausage (around 4 oz.) can have upwards of 900 milligrams in it after processing. To put this in perspective, 4 oz. of cooked chicken breast has less than 100 milligrams.

Some sausage is high in saturated fat.

chicken sausage

Depending on the type of sausage you buy, you may also be consuming a high amount of saturated fat. The USDA says an average link of sausage (which typically contains ground pork, beef, or a combination) may have 13 grams of saturated fat. The AHA would say this is the exact limit of saturated fat you should allow yourself to have in a day if you are following a 2,000 calorie diet. Saturated fat consumption should only account for 5% to 6% of your calories in order to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure low.

Too much saturated fat in a day can cause a myriad of issues. Not only does it contribute to weight gain, but it can also increase your "bad" LDL cholesterol, which results in an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

So if you plan on grilling up some sausages this summer, be mindful of how much you plan on consuming.

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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