Steer clear of the bacon. Hold off on that hot dog. Don’t touch deli meat sandwiches. Sure processed meats are convenient and some of them are quite tasty too. So much so that they have become a regular part of the American our diet. But you may just want to think twice before you order that next BLT.
That’s because new research suggests eating processed meat – such as bacon, sausages, hot dogs, ham and salami – may increase your risk of getting heart disease and diabetes. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found that people who eat a 50g serving of processed meat each day increase their risk of developing heart disease by 42% and diabetes by 19%.
Additionally, The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer concluded that processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption and consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products.
What is Difference Between Processed and Non-Processed Meat?
Many people may not know the difference between processed meat and non-processed or fresh meat.
- Fresh meat has only one ingredient, the meat itself. It has a much shorter short shelf life because it hasn’t been preserved.
- Processed meat is meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives. It typically has several ingredients and is usually packaged for long-term shelf life.
Here is a list of some of the most popular processed meats:
- Breakfast sausage
- Deli meat
- Hot dogs
- Meat in canned soup
- Meat in frozen pizza
- Meat used in ravioli, spaghetti, or Italian pasta products
- Sandwich meat
Harmful Chemicals in Processed Meat
Sodium nitrite is used as a color fixer by meat companies to turn packaged meats a bright red color so they look fresh.
- It is considered carcinogenic once it enters the human body, causing harm on internal organs, especially the liver and pancreas.
- It is widely regarded as a toxic ingredient. The USDA actually tried to ban this additive in the 1970s but was vetoed by food manufacturers who complained they had no alternative for preserving packaged meat products.
BHT and BHA are antioxidants that help maintain the appeal and wholesome qualities of food by retarding rancidity in fats, sausages and dried meats, as well as helping to protect some of the natural nutrients in foods.
MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is another dangerous chemical found in many processed meat products. It is a flavor enhancer that comes from a common amino acid, glutamic acid, and must be declared as monosodium glutamate on meat and poultry labels.
Processed Meat and Cancer
The chemical additives in processed meats are known to greatly increase the risk of:
- Pancreatic cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Heart Disease
You can avoid the dangers of processed meats by following a few simple rules:
- Always read ingredient labels.
- Don’t buy anything made with preservatives, especially sodium nitrite or MSG.
- Eat fresh food whenever possible.