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Diabetics & Sausage

by
author image Owen Pearson
Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.
Diabetics & Sausage
Sausage with onions in a bun. Photo Credit bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

Sausage, a common breakfast meat in the United States, is typically made from ground beef, pork or a mixture of the two. This breakfast meat is commonly served as with egg dishes and pancakes, and is also used in breakfast dishes such as quiche, omelettes and frittatas. Several components of packaged sausage may have negative health effects for diabetics.

Saturated Fats

Sausage made from pork or beef is typically high in saturated fats. One sausage patty made from a mixture of pork and beef contains about 3.499 grams of saturated fats, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Diabetics should limit saturated fat consumption to about 7 percent of daily calories, or about 15 grams per day for most adults. Saturated fats can contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease, which are common complications of diabetes.

Trans Fats

Pork and beef contain small amounts of trans fats; however, deep frying sausage in shortening or pan-frying in butter or lard can dramatically increase trans fat content -- a deep-fried sausage patty may contain as much as 5 grams of these harmful fats. Trans fats can elevate low-density lipoproteins, which can cause arterial plaque, hardened arteries and cardiovascular disease. They can also lower high-density lipoproteins, which help prevent plaque deposits in your arteries. Trans fats should make up no more than 7 percent of your total calorie intake -- about 2 grams, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This is particularly important for diabetics, who carry a greater risk of heart disease.

Refined Sugar

Although sausage is not commonly thought of as a sweet food, most commercially packaged sausage in the United States contains refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Refined sugars are carbohydrates that quickly turn into glucose in your bloodstream. Elevated glucose can be toxic to your liver, and may cause diabetes-related hyperglycemic symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, poor mental function and fainting. High blood glucose also triggers insulin production in your pancreas, which can make the cells of your body resistant to absorbing glucose, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Alternatives

Making turkey sausage from fresh, lean ground turkey can help you avoid the saturated fats found in pork and beef sausage. Forming your own turkey sausage patties and links also allows you to omit sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

Fry turkey sausage patties in 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of frying them in lard, butter or shortening. Olive oil contains unsaturated fats, which may help lower cholesterol levels.

You can also opt for pre-made vegetarian sausage patties and links to limit saturated fat intake. However, avoid these foods if you have a soy allergy. Vegetarian sausage commonly contains textured vegetable protein, which is a soy derivative.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index was developed as a way to gauge how strong and how fast foods -- primarily carbohydrates -- affect your blood sugar. Pure glucose rates 100, and is the measuring point. Anything that rates less than 50 is considered low glycemic index. Sausage rates 28 on the glycemic index chart, and that number is primarily due to fillers and sugars added to the meat. A 28 means that sausage raises your blood sugar levels 28 percent as much as pure sugar, according to Harvard Medical School.

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