- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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June 4, 2010
Red meat — no longer bad for us?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
New research is casting doubt on the idea that red meat increases your risk of heart disease.
Researchers at Harvard pooled data from 20 studies to see if different types of red meat — unprocessed versus processed — had different effects on the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Unprocessed red meat was defined as beef, hamburger, pork, lamb or game. Processed meat included bacon, salami, sausage and luncheon meats — any type of meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting or addition of preservatives.
Data on stroke were too limited for the researchers to draw firm conclusions, but here's what they found regarding heart disease and diabetes:
- Red meat. About 100 grams (roughly the size of a deck of cards) a day was not associated with a higher risk for heart disease and only a slightly higher (but not statistically significant) risk for diabetes.
- Processed red meat. About 50 grams (two-thirds the size of a deck of cards) a day was associated with a 42 percent higher risk for heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk for diabetes.
- Total red meat. A daily total of 100 grams of processed and unprocessed red meat was not associated with risk for heart disease. However, it was associated with a 12 percent higher risk for diabetes.
What is it about processed red meat that seems to increase disease risk? Surprisingly, processed meat has about the same amount of saturated fat as unprocessed red meat — and actually contains less cholesterol and iron. Could it be other ingredients such as sodium? On average, processed meat has about 622 milligrams of sodium in about 2 ounces, while unprocessed meat has 155 milligrams. Researchers hypothesized that salt's effect on blood pressure weakens vessels. What about nitrates added to processed meats? Nitrate preservatives may also damage vessels, reduce insulin secretion and impair control of blood glucose — which may increase risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Should you run out and order a slab of beef? No. For one thing, the studies reviewed had a number of limitations. Additional randomized, controlled studies will be needed to confirm the findings. Keep in mind too that the serving sizes used were quite small — larger servings may have different effects.
I plan to stick with my mostly plant-based diet and keep red meat as an occasional indulgence. And I'll definitely stick to lighter lunch fare in place of subs loaded with processed meat.
How about you?blog index