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Why Processed Meat is Not the Best for You

By: Jenn Moss

When you think about the quintessential sandwich, what do you think of it? It is big with mounds of deli meat, lettuce, tomato, and mayo? Because that sounds pretty good to me. Deli meat, among other processed meats, is an easy way to get in protein and provide a flavorful experience for the palette. A quick lunch on the go or a little pick-me-up on the road. Although processed meats taste good, are they serving any real nutritional value? And maybe even worse…are they harming us?

Let’s start here. What exactly is processed meat, anyways? It is any meat that has been preserved by curing, salting, drying, or smoking. Some examples of these are hot dogs, bacon, deli meat, smoked meat, and beef jerky, just to name a few. 

The Negative Health Side Effects

Eating conventionally processed bacon and sausage in the morning, coupled with two eggs, and a nice hot cup of coffee sounds fantastic, and something that can be enjoyed once in a while. However, that is the key — once in a while. Eating high sodium, and cured foods can cause health issues if eaten in large quantities and frequencies. 

Some possibilities:

1. Increased Blood Pressure

Due to the high concentration of sodium, hypertension is linked with processed meat. If you’re someone who already struggles with high blood pressure, it may be in your best interest to limit your consumption.

2. Heart Disease

According to a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health, eating processed meats is associated with a 42 percent increased risk of developing heart disease.

3. Cancer

Eating 50 grams of processed meat a day increases your risk of getting cancer. Some of these include prostate, pancreatic, colorectal cancer. These possibilities may come as a shock for you, especially if you’ve consumed a lot of processed meats. Although it is often yummy, perhaps you swap them out for these options:

● Baking a big batch of chicken breasts and slicing it up for the week

● Opt for a vegetarian solution. Ex. Black beans, tempeh, tofu

● Incorporate lean fish into your diet

● Search for bacon that is nitrate-free and low sodium

Nobody has a perfect diet. We all have things that we consume that we know we shouldn’t. However, if possible, you may want to limit or cut out processed meats from your diet. Notice the differences in how you feel-your future self will thank you.