Friday, April 12, 2013

Myth: I'll have to stop eating sandwiches with red meat because of the latest study about heart disease.

Answer: BUSTED!

What if we uncovered new information about what causes some of us to be at greater risk of getting heart disease? That question is timely due to recent study results coming out of the Cleveland Clinic. It appears that bacteria in your digestive tract may form a substance associated with a greater risk of heart disease. This seems to occur more in those that eat meat as compared to those that don’t. However there is no definitive cause and effect relationship between this substance and heart disease at this time. Why? These new studies are important yet not conclusive. They provide alternative ways that researchers can look at the links between what we eat and chronic diseases like heart disease. Perhaps saturated fat and cholesterol may not be the only factors involved in heart disease. As with all new studies we wait for further confirmation from other studies. Often, complex conditions like heart disease have more than one cause.

Grilled tomato, roasted pepper & cheese sandwich
Grilled tomato, roasted pepper & cheese sandwich - yum!
So what should you do? MyPlate guidelines recommend 5 to 6½ ounces of protein each day from a variety of foods including meat, chicken, fish, beans and seafood. Most Americans get enough protein but we don’t get enough veggies in our diet. Consider preparing or choosing a vegetarian sandwich every now and then. You can use whole wheat bread or wraps. Here are some delicious vegetable ingredients for your sandwiches that you should try:

  • Portobello mushrooms, the large mushrooms you see in the grocery store, can serve as the base for a sandwich because of its meaty flavor. The mushrooms can be grilled or roasted before adding to a sandwich.
  • Another veggie choice for your sandwich? Avocado! It can add a creamy texture and subtle taste to sandwiches. Avocados are a source of healthy fats and potassium.
  • Roasted red peppers add a new twist to sandwiches. Pair peppers (and other veggies like tomatoes) with hummus for a filling and tasty sandwich.

And when you are eating out, look on the menu for vegetarian sandwich options like those offered at Subway.

Try this Grilled Zucchini Panini recipe or find other tips for making healthy food choices at

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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