There’s bad news for deli turkey fans, but there are other options.
When fresh research emerges exposing the possible health hazards of consuming processed beef, it comes as no surprise. After all, for years, the link between processed meats and diseases like cancer has dominated the news.
You’re not alone if you’re wondering, “What is processed beef and why is it so unhealthy?” After all, a significant amount of the foods we eat are processed but do not represent a health concern.
A new Hamilton-led study found a link between processed meat intake and an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. The same association was not found in the study with unprocessed red meat or fowl.
Look no further if you want a better grasp of what processed meat is or if you want to make healthier meat selections.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, even a modest amount of processed beef can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
If you can’t live without a little sausage taste in your eggs, Heikkinen believes a small quantity from time to time won’t hurt, as long as you keep it as small as possible. You can add a piece of ham to a split pea soup or sausage to a vegetable-rich spaghetti sauce to add flavor to your dish.
Tips for detecting difficult food labeling
Reading labels attentively is the first step in identifying processed meat. If you read phrases like nitrate, nitrite, cured, or salted, you know it’s been processed. That means you should move on to something healthier.
Some labels, on the other hand, can be deceiving. For example, the term “nitrate-free” may not mean exactly what it says. “It’s best to buy deli meats that don’t have any added nitrates,” Heikkinen advises. Manufacturers can still use “natural” nitrate sources like celery powder while claiming “no nitrates” on their labels.
“We don’t know yet if these natural sources are safer,” Heikkinen says. In reality, when plant sources of nitrates are introduced, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service proposes to amend labeling standards to prohibit such statements.
A label’s claim of “reduced sodium” can sometimes be deceptive. Deli meat, by definition, contains less than 140 milligrams of salt per serving. Given the added salt from your bread and sandwich condiments, this would bring the lunch meat to a reasonable sodium level.
“Low-sodium” is more potent than “reduced-sodium,” which merely says the product has at least 25% less sodium than the usual version and could still be high in sodium,” Heikkinen notes.
Heikkinen recommends speaking with your local butcher or farmer about the type of meat you’re searching for to minimize the stress of deciphering labels.
Explaining processed meat
Although there is no official definition of processed meat, Sue Heikkinen, a qualified dietitian at MyNetDiary, explains that it “usually refers to meats that have been smoked, cured, salted, or have preservatives or other additives.”
Bacon, hot dogs, ham, sausage, pepperoni, and deli meats are the most prevalent types of processed meats. They are traditionally served as a way to preserve and reduce the danger of food-borne illness.
While all meat is treated to some extent, highly processed meats with chemicals like nitrates and excessive salt levels represent the greatest health hazards.
Unfortunately, this also applies to deli meat that is lean and white, such as sliced turkey or chicken. On the other hand, by selecting organic, farm-fresh meats and having a greater awareness of what food labels represent, you can still enjoy your favorite meats without the dangerous substances.
Is it possible to eat processed meat as part of a healthy diet?
Processed meats, according to Heikkinen, can be a convenient and tasty source of protein, iron, and zinc. People shouldn’t rely on these meals as a significant source of nutrients. In fact, Heikkinen advises individuals to eat as little processed meat as possible. Even 50g (approximately 2 ounces) of processed meat every week, the equivalent of a tiny hot dog or two slices of ham. It’s just not worth the risk, especially when healthier options are available.
Alternatives to processed meats that are better for you
It’s easier than you might think to consume less-processed meat, and there are plenty of options. Heikkinen recommends using tuna, hummus, peanut butter, or even leftover fresh-cooked meat for lunch meat substitutes. Consider fresh fish, grilled chicken, free-range hard-boiled eggs, organic red meat, legumes, or tofu as dinner options.
Try combining a variety of spices for flavor bursts comparable to those found in processed meats. If you want a sausage flavor, Heikkinen suggests mixing ground pork with fennel and Italian seasoning.
Spending time to cook fresh meat at home, as well as purchasing it from a butcher or a local farm, is a terrific way to guarantee you’re eating as healthily as possible, and it’s also the simplest method to avoid hazardous processed meats.
What daily foods are best for you? Check out these 14 healthy foods now!