Skip the hot dogs at the picnic?

Study: Men who eat a lot of processed meat have increased risk of heart failure

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Hot dogs are the staple of almost any 4th of July cookout.  But the results of a recent study give us an idea of how hard hot dogs and other processed meat can be on our health. It found middle-aged men, who eat high amounts of processed red meats, may have a higher risk of heart failure.

"That just means they're getting a lot of extra sodium, a lot of extra animal fat, and that's what put them at higher risk for heart failure," said Cleveland Clinic Registered Dietitian Kate Patton.

Warsaw University researchers studied more than 37, 000 men with no history of heart problems. After nearly 12 years they found men who ate at least 75 grams of processed red meat every day were 28% more likely to develop heart failure than men who ate less than 25 grams of processed red meat per day.  In fact, the biggest processed meat eaters more than doubled their chances of dying from heart failure.

Processed meats include things like sausages, ham, salami and hot dogs. They're typically higher in sodium and other chemicals, which help increase shelf-life, but can also, be harmful to our health.

Researchers recommend limiting the amount of processed meats you eat to one or two servings per day. Patton agrees.

"If you're eating sausage for breakfast, and salami for lunch, and having some type of processed meat for dinner, then right, maybe try and cut that back to only once or twice a day," advised Patton.

Take it to Heart Challenge

News4Jax is working with Baker-Gilmour Cardiovascular Institute, Memorial Hospital and Walgreens to remind people to "Take it to Heart" and to take the Take it to Heart challenge.

The Take it to Heart challenge is designed to get women moving.  On the 4th of every month, on Channel 4, we'll remind everyone to take the 4 step challenge that is designed to change lives and get people moving. 

The challenge consists of four steps. The first is to learn the symptoms of heart disease and to educate yourself and your loves ones about how heart disease symptoms are different in women than they are in men.  

The second step in the Take it to Heart Challenge is to know the individual's risk factors.  Doctors say knowing whether you're diabetic or have elevated cholesterol is key to knowing what changes need to be made to get on the right healthy life track. 

The third step in the challenge may be the most challenging for some people,  to quit smoking.

Finally, the fourth step is exercise.  Getting up and moving will make a huge difference and that's why it's one of the most important parts of the challenge.  Doctors say starting a moderate exercise program means taking steps to better health and the best way to do that, is to work out with a friend. 

To sign up for the Take it to Heart Challenge, head to

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