Today, Major League Baseball teams are celebrating Opening Day—and kicking off a season of increased colorectal cancer risk for baseball fans. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, baseball fans are expected to eat more than 19 million hot dogs during the 2018 season. But even eating just one hot dog a day can increase the risk of colorectal cancer, which kills more than 50,000 Americans per year.
In 2015, the World Health Organization released a report declaring hot dogs and other processed meats “carcinogenic to humans.” Studies show that consuming one daily 50-gram serving of processed meat—about the size of a typical hot dog—increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.
Unfortunately, some stadiums have taken baseball’s deadly processed meat addiction to a new extreme this year. “Extreme” hot dogs recently debuted at several MLB stadiums, including the Triple Play Dog at Coors Field in Denver—a hot dog topped with pulled pork, bacon bits, and purple slaw. The Milwaukee Brewers are offering a Polish Sausage Pierogi, while the Kansas City Royals are selling a Smoked Barbecue Brisket Taco.
Fortunately, other teams are stepping up to the plate and offering healthier options. The Philadelphia Phillies recently unveiled a new Vegan Cauliflower Cheesesteak, and the Toronto Blue Jays have added Vegan Nachos to their food offerings.
So, when you are soaking in the sun and enjoying America’s pastime, choose the Vegan Un-Tuna Salad or Greens and Grains Salad at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, not the Pulled Pork Pierogi Hoagie. Revel in the Vegan Nacho Grande with Beyond Meat crumbles at Globe Life Park in Arlington, and say no to the Triple B—a sandwich made with bacon, brisket, and bologna.
As some teams begin to offer healthful, plant-based options, it’s time for the rest of Major League Baseball to start incorporating our country’s health into our national pastime—and to strike out processed meat for good.
Exciting news from New York: Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Council Member Fernando Cabrera have just introduced a resolution to the New York City Council that would remove processed meat from the city's school lunches.
The landmark resolution cites a 2015 report from the World Health Organization that declared processed meat, such as hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon, sausage, and deli meat, carcinogenic to humans. Studies show that just one hot dog or two strips of bacon per day can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. In recent years, colorectal cancer rates have been steadily rising in young people.
That’s why current menu options like Turkey Sausage Crumble, Egg, and Cheese Wrap for breakfast and the Meat Lovers Pizza with Bacon and Sausage for lunch don’t belong in schools.
“We cannot continue feeding our children substances that are scientifically proven to increase their chances of cancer later in life,” says Borough President Adams, who reversed his type 2 diabetes by adopting a plant-based diet in 2016.
“I know from my own experience with being diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic that it is so important to take ownership of your health and take control of what you eat,” added President Adams. “We must feed our kids nutritious meals that will nourish their bodies and help them perform better academically. Kids want to be healthy and strong, so let’s help them get there by feeding them healthy meals.”
By adopting the resolution, New York City would add to its impressive record as a leader in offering healthy school food. New York City schools already offer daily plant-based meals to every student, and the district is home to the first all-vegetarian public school in the nation.
Join us in urging the New York City Council to support this resolution.
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Fans of the hit NBC series This Is Us finally learned how the beloved character Jack Pearson died, but did they get the full story? In this week’s episode, after a fire breaks out at the Pearson residence, a doctor explains that excessive smoke inhalation stressed Jack’s heart, triggering a massive heart attack that took his life.
What the doctor didn’t mention is that atherosclerosis, which is a fatty build-up in the arteries, put Jack at risk for the attack. The physical stress his body endured through his heroic and successful attempt at saving his family from the fire likely caused plaque to dislodge and block an artery that supplies the heart with oxygenated blood. A lifetime of eating animal products floods the body’s circulatory system with cholesterol, raising the risk for heart disease.
It couldn’t have helped that the Pearson kids ditched Jack on Super Bowl Sunday, leaving Jack and Rebecca to deal with all of the food they had prepared for a full day of snacking. Food served on game day is traditionally very animal product heavy, making it high in saturated fat and cholesterol. A 2007 study from the Journal of Nutrition found that a single fatty meal can cause the heart to beat harder and raise blood pressure. And a 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the number of heart attacks in one major city doubled during a big sports event.
One has to wonder, was the state of Jack’s heart health a ticking time bomb? Could he have been due for a heart attack sooner or later anyway?
What You Can Do
Ditch animal products and switch to a heart-healthy diet centered on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Vegan diets have been found to help reduce heart disease risk by reducing inflammation and to lower risk for heart failure. And on game day, try these doctor-approved, crowd-pleasing recipes.
By Lee Crosby, R.D., L.D.
According to recent data from the USDA, Americans are expected to eat a record-high average of 222 pounds of meat per person in 2018. That’s devastating news for Americans’ health.
To put it in perspective, studies show that eating just 2 ounces of processed meat per day—less than the amount on a typical ham sandwich—can up the risk for colon cancer by 24 percent. Another recent study found that just one third of an ounce of processed meat a day—the weight of a single poker chip!—can raise the risk for breast cancer.
On top of that, meat can also up our risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.
So what can we do? The good news is that by moving away from meat and opting for a diet based on fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, we can reduce our risk for developing these lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Ready to give it a try but not sure how to jump in?
Check out my top 5 easy and healthy meat replacements!
- Beans and lentils are low in fat, but packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that you won’t find in meat. Use beans and lentils to replace meat in chili, tacos, salads, and no-meat loafs.
Recipes: Black Bean Chipotle Burgers and Sweet Potato Lentil Chili
- Tofu is beneficial for cancer prevention, heart health, and bone health! It’s versatile and can work like eggs or meat in scrambles, stir-fries, soups, or sandwiches.
Recipes: Tofu Zucchini Scramble, Vegetable Lo Mein, and BBQ Tofu Bites
- Portobello mushrooms have a meaty flavor and texture that make them an ideal low-fat, cholesterol-free meat alternative! Grill like steaks or burgers or add to fajitas or pasta.
Recipes: Marinated Mushroom Burgers and Barbecue-Style Portobellos
- Seitan, or wheat gluten, is a high-protein meat alternative that mimics meat in taste and texture. Grill, bake, shape into roasts, and add to stir-fries!
Recipes: Seitan Piccata and Polenta with Hearty Barbecue Sauce
- Meat replacements, like veggie burgers and veggie crumbles, are available in most grocery stores. While whole foods are best, these can be great to use for transition foods or special occasions.
Recommendations: Gardein Ultimate Beefless Ground and Beyond Beef crumbles are both low in fat and gluten free.
Learn more in my recent interview on The Exam Room podcast!
The president’s recent checkup indicates that he has heart disease. He is not alone. About 92 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease, and heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States. The 222 pounds of meat, 274 eggs, and 35 pounds of cheese the average American is projected to consume in 2018 certainly won’t help matters. So I invite the president to take a moment at the State of the Union Address on Jan. 30 and invite all Americans to join him in the fight against heart disease by signing up for the bipartisan 21-Day Vegan Kickstart.
President Trump has made no secret of his love for KFC and at McDonald’s, including his reported favorite of two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches, and a chocolate milkshake. But those foods are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol from animal products that increase his heart disease risk. But here again, he is not alone. Many Americans have less-than-healthy eating habits.
So I’m hoping our President will make America grate. That is, grate carrots, beets, and onions onto their salads. And make America sprinkle slivered walnuts onto their morning oatmeal. And make America fill a whole-grain tortilla with healthy beans, rice, and salsa, for a zero-cholesterol, heart-healthy menu.
And encourage America to ditch meaty, cheesy fast food. A study published in the journal Circulation found that people who eat fast food once a week increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent. Two to three fast-food meals a week increase the risk of premature death by 50 percent. Four or more fast-food meals a week increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80 percent. These same proinflammatory products also increase the risk for colorectal cancer by up to one-third, according to a study published this week in JAMA Oncology. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women.
The good news is that healthy foods can make these risks plummet.
The state of the union’s health is not what it needs to be. And our love affair with meat and dairy products is to blame. A plant-based diet can help prevent and reverse heart disease and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. President Trump can help Kickstart the nation’s health on Jan. 30 by promoting a plant-based diet to both sides of the aisle at his State of the Union Address.
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