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Is Your Sandwich Making You Older?

Is Your Sandwich Making You Older?

Turns out the type of sandwich fixing you choose could cause you to age faster. And the bread stuffing that really sticks it to you? Processed meat.

In a study, researchers found that people who ate the highest amount of processed meat -- think salami, pressed ham, and bologna -- showed the greatest signs of wear and tear in a key marker of cellular aging.

Telltale Telomeres
Yep, the people who ate the most processed meat had the shortest telomeres. Not a good thing, because telomeres are those tiny protective coverings on the ends of your DNA strands. The shorter they get, the older your body is on a cellular level -- and the wider the door opens to problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. In the study, the telomeres of the processed-meat lovers showed about 3.4 extra years of aging compared with those who ate the least processed meat. (Find out how the length of your telomeres can affect your looks, too.)

A Processing Problem
What's so bad about processed meats? The trouble is that they tend to be packed with a whole bunch of bad things -- like saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol, nitrates, and nitrites -- all things believed to be linked to telomere-shortening inflammation. Still other studies have linked processed meat to higher risks of diabetes and even cancer. The healthiest approach to meat? Go lean, skinless, and whole -- such as sliced whole turkey breast. You want cuts that are as natural and unprocessed as possible.

Check out this tasty food pairing that helps preserve telomere length.

Take the first steps to growing younger and healthier with the RealAge Test.

Medically reviewed in April 2019.

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