Warning, Don’t Buy Another Ounce of Deli Meat Until You Read This

By on June 24, 2014
Deli Meat Is Bad For You

You’ve probably seen them in your local grocery store. Those perfectly round, unnaturally pink slices of ham, roast beef, or bologna are what the food industry calls processed meats, and they can be incredibly dangerous for you and your family. Just two slices of processed deli meat per day can raise your risk of heart disease over 40 percent, not to mention put you at greater risk for diabetes and many forms of cancer. Foods like bacon, sausage, and beef jerky are packed full of sodium and preservatives, and the chemicals they contain may be even worse. How much do you really have to worry about?

Sodium Content
According to the CDC, the outrageous amount of sodium that most people consume is one of the major causes for the increase in heart disease that America has seen in the past two decades. All animal meats are high in sodium, but processed meats like deli cold cuts can be off the charts. Most people only need about 500mg of sodium per day, but the recommended daily intake is 1,500 mg, simply because it’s in so much of what we eat that cutting down too much might result in the loss of other nutrients. You’re probably wondering how much sodium is in processed meats by comparison. Well, just three slices of processed turkey will give you over 2,000mg. That’s far over the daily limit with a single sandwich. And there are nearly 1,000mg in a normal serving of bacon. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and hardened arteries, which lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Sodium Nitrate Preservatives
Many common foods at the grocery store contain added preservatives, but processed meats like deli meat create one of the biggest food safety issues. It’s necessary to use preservatives in these products to kill dangerous bacteria and prevent the meat from going rancid quickly. But the most common preservative in processed meat, sodium nitrate, can be dangerous in itself. If it’s present in a meat you cook, like bacon or hot dogs, it can convert to a cancer-causing carcinogen. And even in cold meats like deli meats, the nitrate can combine with stomach acid and other chemicals in your body to cause various forms of cancer. It’s worth noting that sodium nitrate actually occurs in nature and is present in many root vegetables like beets, carrots, spinach, and celery. But these foods are so high in antioxidants that they prevent the effects of the sodium nitrate on your body. Vitamin C in itself is proven to help prevent nitrate from converting to cancer-causing substances.

The most major reason why pregnant women are advised to avoid processed meats is the bacteria knows as listeria. Listeria can grow in a number of different foods, but it is especially common in deli meats because they often sit around on display at room temperature. Listeriosis, the disease that results from exposure to the bacteria, kills around 250 people in the U.S. every year, and pregnant women, small children, and the elderly are most at risk. Bacteria can spread through utensils, unwashed containers, or the refrigerator simply not being cold enough. Listeriosis may not be extremely common but it is extremely serious. It causes fever and flu symptoms, and it can cause convulsions when it reaches the nervous system. In pregnant women, it can cause miscarriage, early delivery, and the chance of delivering an extremely ill newborn that can die from the infection.

A Plant-based Diet
As you can see from the issues with animal meats, it’s hard to avoid putting yourself at risk. Either the bacteria in these foods makes you sick, or the chemicals added to stave off the bacteria get in your system and cause cancer. And even if you can avoid either of these things happening, processed meat is so packed with sodium and fat that you’re majorly increasing your chance for heart disease by eating it anyway. Eating a plant-based diet is good for more than just helping the environment and keeping weight off. The rich vitamins and antioxidants in vegetables keep your heart healthy and strong, and they actually help your body fend off serious diseases. Going vegan can reduce your risk of heart disease by half and lower your bad cholesterol by over 30 percent, as well as reducing the risk for a long list of other life-threatening conditions.

The Western diet, with its heavy emphasis on animal meats, is creating a society where dying early of preventable conditions is the norm. Before you reach for that package of ham at the deli, you should consider the very real dangers. The food you consume should make you feel safe and nourished without all the chemicals.

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About Dean Iodice