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Breakfast Meats: What's Best for Your Health and Blood Sugar?

March 31, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Brooke McKelvey

What breakfast foods do you love? The perfect morning meal is different for everyone but typically involves a few staples. You can pick between sausage patties, breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs, omelets, breakfast sandwiches, Greek yogurt, breakfast cereal... the list is endless. For others, the first meal of the day involves a combination of all these breakfast foods.

A healthy morning meal can help you break your overnight fast appropriately, providing your body energy to carry you through until lunchtime. But what should you have for breakfast? A healthy breakfast can mean different things depending on your health goals, food tolerances, and dietary preferences.

The options are endless, but breakfast meats are one of the most popular choices. There are all sorts of different breakfast meats available, from turkey sausage and corned beef hash to ham and Canadian bacon. 

If you like your breakfast meats, here’s some good news for you—some can be a great source of protein. But as with any food, the health benefits of a high-protein breakfast, and more specifically, breakfast meats, depends on how your body responds.

And what if you're trying to manage your blood sugar levels? Breakfast foods can be tricky because there are so many options, and they’re not all created equally. But protein can help control blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of glucose from food. 

Eating protein with carbohydrate foods slows down the rate at which the carbohydrates are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to a gradual rise in blood sugar levels instead of a sudden spike. 

So, it’s safe to say including protein in your breakfast can help you manage your blood sugar levels better. Read on to see why protein is a vital part of a healthy, balanced diet and how different breakfast meats add up.

Balanced Breakfasts are Healthy Breakfasts

six types of toasts

It’s not surprising that a balanced breakfast is the best option. When you’re scrambling for breakfast ideas, consider a combination of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. It will help keep you full for longer. Unrefined carbs like whole grains can also be a good source of energy. If you’re having trouble figuring out the proper breakfast for your needs, consider consulting a nutritionist or registered dietitian.

Why Adding Protein to Your Morning Meal is Important

two toasts

Let’s focus on one of the most important aspects of any healthy eating plan—protein. Proteins are chains of amino acids, organic compounds that your body uses for different functions.

Incorporating protein into your diet can help to manage your blood sugar levels. Protein helps make you feel full, often reducing cravings for foods filled with added sugar and refined carbs. Including a variety of high-protein foods in your diet is the best way to ensure you get the nutrients your body needs. 

Protein is also essential for growth and development, repairing muscles and tissue, and maintaining a healthy immune system. You'll find protein in animal and plant foods, so there are plenty of options for people who want to include it in their diets. 

While it’s essential for everyone, it may be especially beneficial for athletes, pregnant women, and those focusing on weight loss or muscle building.

Some Common Sources of Protein at Breakfast

When you start your day with protein, you're providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. While eggs are a great source of protein in the morning, there are many different sources you can pick. 

But while some breakfast meats are a great source of protein, they're not all great choices for metabolic health. Some breakfast meats can contain hidden added sugars. Many are highly processed, which may not be the best option for overall health. 

Here are some of the most common breakfast meats, their effect on your blood glucose levels, and some nutritional information about each one:

Pork Bacon

macros of pork bacon

Who doesn’t love this delicious food? People love bacon so much there’s even a camp dedicated to it! Pork bacon is an excellent source of protein, and it doesn't have a lot of carbs. Pork bacon may even help regulate your blood glucose levels if you meal sequence and consume it before including any carbs in your breakfast.

Bacon has approximately 12 grams of protein per 100 grams and contains vitamin B, selenium, and zinc. The meat has a high-fat content and is made by soaking the meat in a mixture of salt, sugar, and nitrates. Bacon can be extremely salty, so salt-sensitive individuals or those on a salt-restricted diet may need to consider the sodium content.

Bacon is low in carbohydrates and sugar (unless you pick a glazed or sugar-seasoned option), so there's a good chance it won't cause your glucose levels to spike! Because bacon is high in fat, it can slow digestion and glucose metabolism, resulting in a blunted glucose spike. Many people find that small amounts of bacon, consumed before the rest of their meal, have a minimal impact on their glucose trends.

Turkey Bacon

macros of Turkey Bacon

When people think of bacon, they usually think of pork bacon. However, another type of bacon has been growing in popularity over the past few years: turkey bacon. 

Turkey bacon is a lighter, lower-fat alternative to pork bacon. It has less fat and calories and contains approximately 21.43 grams of protein per serving. It's a lean protein and is low in carbohydrates, so it often produces a minimal impact on blood sugar. Turkey bacon can also be high in salt, but there are low sodium alternatives (yes, it still tastes good!). 

Turkey bacon is an excellent alternative to pork bacon for anyone looking to cut out a few calories or needs to stick to a kosher diet but still wants to incorporate animal protein into their breakfast.

Canadian Bacon

macros of Canadian Bacon

The mention of Canadian bacon is enough to make mouths water. This type of bacon is delicious, but is it healthy? Let's take a closer look at the nutritional value of Canadian bacon and find out. Spoiler alert: it’s a pretty lean choice! The term Canadian bacon is a bit of a misnomer. In reality, Canadian bacon is more similar to ham than traditional bacon. It’s leaner and healthier, and it has a delicious, smoky flavor.

Canadian bacon is a type of ham made from pork loin rather than from the belly like regular bacon. It is cured and smoked but not cooked like regular bacon. It results in leaner meat with lower levels of fat and calories. In addition, Canadian bacon contains high levels of protein and minerals like zinc and phosphorus.

Canadian bacon contains approximately 28.3 grams of protein per 100 grams. It is low in carbohydrates and is safe for anyone looking to add meat to their breakfast without affecting their blood glucose. 

Canadian bacon is a processed food, so it may not be the best idea to incorporate it into your daily diet. But it is a safe option if you want to switch things up in the mornings while keeping your blood glucose trends level.

Ham Steak

macros of Ham Steak

Ham steak is a type of meat that is cut from the leg of a pig. It’s popular worldwide and made by curing pork meat with salt and smoking it. It contains 14.29 grams of protein, can be an excellent low-fat option, and has essential vitamins and minerals like zinc, vitamin C, and selenium.

Ham steak also contains a variety of nutritional benefits. It’s low in fat as well as cholesterol and can be cooked in a variety of ways, making it a versatile meal option. Due to its lean protein content, it can be a blood glucose-friendly breakfast option. Lean protein is a good way to balance any carbohydrates and sugars in your diet.

Breakfast Sausage

macros of Breakfast Sausage

Sausages are processed meat typically made from pork, beef, or turkey. Breakfast sausages, in particular, are often seasoned and/or cured and then stuffed into a casing to form a link or made into patties.

It's no secret that these are high-fat, high-calorie foods. But what you may not know is that many types of sausage are also loaded with sodium. Some also have added sugars and carbohydrates. 

If you have diabetes or are watching your blood sugar levels, breakfast sausage may not be the best choice. So, you will need to read the nutritional facts labels carefully to know how much the sausage you choose could impact your blood glucose levels. 

Maple Sausage

macros of Maple Sausage

Maple sausages are higher in sugar and fat and don’t provide much nutritional value. They’re more of a processed meat than other options and may even contain some preservatives. 

With a whopping 768 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams, it’s safe to say this is a high-salt option. Remember, the recommended daily limit for salt is 2300 mg. So, if you're looking for a healthy breakfast option that’s better for your blood glucose levels, consider moderating your intake of this variety. 

Corned Beef Hash

macros of Corned Beef Hash

Corned beef hash is a popular breakfast dish made with corned beef and potatoes, served as a standalone meal or as part of a larger breakfast spread.

If made from scratch, you can control some of the sodium and nutrient content, but canned corned beef hash can be high in fats, and calories, with a whopping 972 grams of sodium.

It also contains a significant amount of carbohydrates (from potatoes), which can lead to more substantial blood sugar responses. It does have a good amount of protein to help blunt a glucose spike, so the response may be very individual from person to person. 

Corned beef hash may be delicious, but if you struggle with controlling your blood sugar levels, this may be best served in moderation or made from scratch to control the carbohydrate content yourself.

Lox

macros of Lox

Lox, also known as smoked salmon, is not really ‘meat,’ but we’re such big fans we’re going to sneak it onto the list here. It’s made with raw salmon filets brined in salt and spices, then cold smoked.

It has a salty, smoky flavor and is often eaten on bagels with cream cheese. Lox is a great choice for those with diabetes because of the omega-3s, healthy fats, and the lack of carbohydrates.

Lox is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, making it a healthy choice for breakfast or lunch. But you may want to consider skipping the bagel and cream cheese if you’re eating it regularly. Lox can be a delicious addition to omelets, scrambles, or poached eggs instead. 

The Verdict

Which type of breakfast meat should you pick from this list? Here’s the verdict from dietitian and Nutrition Manager at NutriSense, Carlee Hayes:

“When it comes to breakfast, protein is important! If you're planning your breakfasts or any meal for that matter, I always think of it in three main categories: nutrient density, variety, and fun! Aim to make 80 percent of your diet those nutrient-dense foods that nourish your body. From this list, think lox (high in omega-3s), Greek yogurt (high in calcium), and eggs (high in choline).

Sprinkle in other proteins, like cottage cheese, tempeh, nut butter, and good quality meats for variety. Then, fill in the rest with fun foods. That means there's room for sausage, bacon, and corned beef hash from this list. 

Adding in these foods can help keep you excited about your diet, making those nourishing foods feel less like a chore. Mix it up, have fun with it, and eat your protein first to keep your blood sugar stable.”

Many Other Breakfast Foods Can be a Good Source of Protein

an alternative breakfast option

It's important to start your day with a healthy breakfast, and there are plenty of breakfast foods that are good for you and your glucose levels. Many breakfast foods are both high in protein and low in glucose. 

If none of the options on this list are for you, don't worry. There are other ways to ensure you’re getting enough high-protein foods in your diet. Other high-protein foods you can start your day with include eggs, tempeh, chia seeds, nut butter (yummy in oatmeal), beans, greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. 

Watch this space for more high-protein breakfast options and some healthy foods you can add to your morning meal to control and regulate your blood sugar.

Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

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Breakfast Meats: What's Best for Your Health and Blood Sugar?
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Understanding Hyperglycemia vs. Hypoglycemia and How to Recognize the Differences
Understanding Hyperglycemia vs. Hypoglycemia and How to Recognize the Differences

Quickly understand the differences between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, how to recognize the signs, and key prevention tips.

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6
min
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Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]
Triglycerides and Blood Glucose [+Tips to Lower Triglyceride Levels]

Learn everything you need to know about the relationship between triglycerides levels and blood glucose.


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7
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Tips and Tricks for Staying Healthy in the Summer
Tips and Tricks for Staying Healthy in the Summer

If you're gearing up to travel or spend more time outdoors this summer, here are a few tips to help you stay safe and hydrated in the sun.

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7
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Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim
Tips for a Healthy, Happy Purim

Purim, a joyous occasion celebrated around March or April every year, is just around the corner! Read on to learn more about the holiday and the delicious foods that accompany it.

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5
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Thoughtful Valentine's Day Gift Ideas from NutriSense Dietitians
Thoughtful Valentine's Day Gift Ideas from NutriSense Dietitians

Still haven't settled on the perfect gift for your Valentine this year? Take a look at our Nutrition Team's favorites for some thoughtful ideas.

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10
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The Warning Signs of Nerve Damage You Should Watch Out For
The Warning Signs of Nerve Damage You Should Watch Out For

Because nerve damage can have many silent symptoms, it often goes undiagnosed in the early stages. Read on to learn more about what causes nerve damage and some warning signs to watch out for.

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7
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The Ultimate Guide to Fiber and its Effect on Metabolic Health
The Ultimate Guide to Fiber and its Effect on Metabolic Health

Ready to learn all about fiber beyond just the basics? In this post, we dive deep into the different kinds of fiber and health benefits of each. From functional fiber to fermentation, we break down all the jargon into a layman's language.

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8
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The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cardio and Blood Sugar

Did you know that cardio can help you lose weight as well as optimize your health and blood glucose? Here's everything you need to know about cardio and its relationship with blood sugar.

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7
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The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss
The Side Effects of Unhealthy Weight Loss

Find out what unhealthy weight loss is and learn more about its side effects and what you can do to prevent them.

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6
min
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The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure
The Relationship Between Low Blood Sugar and High Blood Pressure

Learn about the warning signs of low blood sugar and the relationship it has on blood pressure.

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10
min
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The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar
The Positive Impact Weight Lifting Has on Blood Sugar

Here is everything you need to know about the relationship between weight lifting and blood sugar.

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7
min
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The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
The Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Sugar

Cholesterol plays a very important role in the human body, contributing to the structure of the cells, helping with vitamin D synthesis, and also promoting the production of steroid and sex hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and estrogen. But how exactly is cholesterol connected to blood glucose levels?

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8
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The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

NutriSense dietitian Katrina Larsen, MS, RD,N, LD, CDCES discusses the risk factors for sleep apnea and how this disorder is linked to other health conditions.

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5
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The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels
The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels

The premise of the paleo diet is that the body can handle a mix of meats, fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and complex carbohydrates better than processed meats, refined fats, grains and simple carbohydrates because it evolved to eat the first category as hunter-gatherers.

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8
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The Health Benefits of Winter Squash
The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

A common ingredient in cozy winter recipes, winter squash is one of our favorite foods this time of year. Read on to learn more about how it can benefit your health.

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6
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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love

Haven't finished your holiday shopping yet? Pick from this list of NutriSense-approved holiday gifts to find some great last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!

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8
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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love

Still haven't bought all your holiday gifts this year? Don't worry—there's still time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Read our guide for some great ideas!

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9
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The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose
The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose

Learn more about inflammation, how it affects blood glucose levels and what you can do to prevent and manage it.

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9
min
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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

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9
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The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes
The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are similar in usage, but pretty distinct in taste, texture, appearance, and even nutritional content! Read on to find out more about each one.

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8
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The Health Benefits of Living With Pets
The Health Benefits of Living With Pets

Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.

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7
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The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices
The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to dishes, and also have a range of health benefits. Learn more about a few of our favorites.

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12
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The Health Benefits of Beans
The Health Benefits of Beans

Learn about the health benefits of beans and how they can help you live a healthier, longer life.

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6
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The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?
The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?

Review our guide to metabolic diets to help get a better understanding of what they are and whether they might be right for you.

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The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa
The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa

Learn about the traditions and nutrient-dense food commonly enjoyed during Kwanzaa. 

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9
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The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection
The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection

Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.

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10
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The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia

This article explores hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, how to manage symptoms through diet, and the advantages of glucose monitoring.

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6
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The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels
The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels

Take a look at how aging can affect your blood glucose levels.

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9
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The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.

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10
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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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8
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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

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9
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The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet
The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet

In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.

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8
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The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis
The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.