Deli Meat: Maybe cut out the cold cuts

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Deli Meat: Maybe cut out the cold cut

A nice heart cold cut, lunch meat, whichever type of deli meat you favor, reading the labels of these pre-packed proteins is very important. There are so many types of deli meats from bologna to turkey breast, making a selection available for every taste bud. However, this “meat”, really isn’t just meat, rather, it’s a concoction of different by-products filled with chemicals. The fat and sodium in excess increase the health risks increase for developing Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, while chances of heart attack and stroke also rise.

Processed meats contain plenty of preservatives, hence their shelf life in your refrigerator. These particular preservatives are nitrates or nitrites. These are a potential carcinogen. All of the added flavors, smoking, salting, and curing the meat, have been linked to cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers processed meat, which is deli meat, to be a Group 1 carcinogen. Other additional ingredients include like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). Those don’t sound like they are meant to visit the digestive system.  It seems like a couple slices of bread with lettuce and tomato with whichever meat, would be a healthy lunch choice. So easy to make must mean too good to be true. Some meat labels say they have no artificial sweeteners or are uncured, but the label needs to say nitrates or nitrites free. We are easily lured by the words “natural” or “organic”, but further investigation needs to be done. Eating ingredients that we are unable to pronounce should probably be avoided. Bologna is basically a mix of sausage, pork, chemicals, and preservatives. In other words, avoid.


This doesn’t mean that you have to completely cut deli meat out of the picture. As is with most eating, making the meal with these meats yourself is probably healthier. Ordering a sandwich at the local shop reveals the shelf life and the added taste from the preservatives. That’s not to say that eating a greasy pizza slice or juicy hamburger would be justified or a better option. However, looking for low sodium options is important. One slice of typical deli meat can contain over 200 mg of sodium, and most sandwiches are layered with meat. It is interesting that the World Health Organization has found that eating just 50 grams of deli meat or any processed meat daily increases the risk for colorectal cancer by 18%. Anything packed and preserved has been transformed from its original taste for us to have easy access to and for manufactures to prey on our pursuit of convenience. Choosing a deli counter versus a packaged is also a better option. A person can also roast their own meat and slice it themselves. The more far removed you know where something has come from, the more you should remove it from your diet. In the end, hold the mayo and cheese, and tell the person crafting your sandwich that you will pass on the nitrates too. Clean eating typically means not eating foods that come in a box or package and this may include deli meat as well.

https://academicjournals.org/article/article1380894469_Long%20et%20al.pdf

https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/179/3/282/103471

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Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.