Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

More on those evil hot dogs…

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 151026-IARC-Meat-rating-UPDATE2 search-1
As promised, here’s some more clarification about last week’s announcement regarding meat and its link to cancer.  Here are some frequently asked questions.

How does smoked turkey measure up?

If it’s smoked, it goes through a process that involves nitrates, and still should be avoided. Go for the house roasted turkey, which is usually done in-store without any preservatives.  Good options can be found at Russo’s, Whole Foods and even Barry’s Deli. Unfortunately, that’s one of the few healthy options when it comes to meat at most delicatessens- corn beef, pastrami, salami, anything hanging on hooks or not refrigerated falls into that Category 1, where a definite link to cancer has been established.

What about organic and grass fed beef?

Organic and grass fed are two different things. There’s some conflicting evidence about this, although organic beef has to comply with higher standards than beef without this label. For more information on how organic, grass-fed or local beef measures up, go to  The bottom line is you should try to buy high quality beef from a trusted butcher who can tell you from whence the beef came.  Typically, beef that is already wrapped in plastic will be more processed to extend shelf life. Once again, red meat is red meat, and a link has been established between frequent and higher volume of consumption of it and colorectal cancer, albeit a weaker link than that of processed meats.

Is pork “the other white meat”?

Pork, like the meat mentioned above usually has gone through processing involving nitrates, and although it is not red meat, it comes with the similar risks as processed red meats. Poultry is safer to consume, because it does not contain heme iron, the way darker red meats do.

What about the cooking method?

When meat is cooked over high heat, like oven broiling, barbecuing, or stove top frying and searing, risk goes up. It’s best to slow cook meat, and use high quality beef.

What if I purchase nitrate-free meat?

It is likely still treated with nitrate salt from celery juice, and is not optimal but better than typical lunch meat.

Learn more at

One more caveat is that meat consumption is hard on our planet. Think of all the water and feed needed for all those cattle, pigs, and lambs, not to mention the fuel involved in transporting them to their final destination. By minimizing your meat consumption, you’re leaving a lighter footprint for future generations.

So, do yourself (and our planet) a favor and focus on eating lots of vegetables, fruit, grains, lean protein like fish and chicken, with the occasional dose of meat.

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