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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Is Deli Meat Bad For You? 6 Effects Of Eating It

On your busiest days, when you can’t seem to find any downtime, there’s nothing quite like a sandwich for lunch. Not only are they quick and easy to make, but with nothing but bread, cheese, maybe some vegetables and your favorite deli meat, this lunch option is also very affordable. But when it comes to eating processed meat, some recent research suggests that the food may have potentially dangerous side effects, such as an increased risk of certain cancers or diseases. These findings — and others like them — may have many wondering, is deli meat bad for you?

Deli meats often contain many preservatives, higher levels of sodium and additives, which are some of the main reasons they are associated with negative side effects. However, processed meats also boost their protein, vitamin and mineral content, and their convenience makes incorporating these beneficial nutrients into your diet easier than cooking and preparing the meat yourself.

To learn more about whether deli meat is really bad for you, or whether the positive effects may outweigh the risks, we spoke to expert nutritionists, plus we’ve gathered information based on the latest research on this delicious and convenient sandwich meat.

RELATED: The 20 Best and Worst Deli Meats, According to Nutritionists

Disadvantages of eating cooked meat


it contains a lot of sodium

Deli meat is durable, which often requires the use of sodium to help maintain its freshness. While everyone’s body needs sodium to function properly, too much sodium can negatively affect your health.

“Excess sodium intake is associated with increased blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke,” says Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LDNot only that, but excess sodium “can lead to fluid retention in the body, which can lead to bloating and swelling, and it can strain the kidneys, potentially leading to kidney problems or exacerbating existing conditions,” he says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LDa supplement in balance.

Thankfully, some companies are trying to provide better options for those watching their sodium intake. “Choosing low-sodium foods or eating deli meats in moderation can help mitigate these health risks,” Sabat said.

Cooked meat increases disease risk

“Processing methods for deli meats can lead to the formation of harmful compounds, such as nitrosamines, which have been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer,” Best said. “The high levels of saturated fat often found in processed deli meats can lead to elevated cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.”

A report was published on Food Science and Nutrition Reviews Consumption of processed meat was found to be associated with an increased risk of ischemic heart disease and was published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition It concluded that consumption of processed meat was associated with higher mortality and higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

likely to be contaminated

One potential side effect that people may not be aware of when eating deli meat is that “deli meat is more susceptible to bacterial contamination than freshly cooked meat,” Sabat said. “Listeria monocytogenes is a harmful bacteria that has been linked to deli meats and can cause serious illness, especially in pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.”

In fact, the CDC reported an outbreak of Listeria in deli meats and cheeses earlier this year, saying the bacteria spread easily through food prep surfaces, hands and manual deli slicers. Although this particular outbreak was reported as of March 29, 2023, it’s still common and always a risk when you’re buying deli meat.

If you’re concerned but still want to be able to use deli meats as a quick and easy lunch option, Sabat says: “Proper food handling, storage and adhering to expiration dates can help minimize the risk of contamination.”

You are likely to ingest some additives and preservatives

Similar to the sodium used to help prolong the life of sliced ​​deli meats, you’ll also find additives and preservatives in many of your favorite processed meat products.

“Deli meat often contains additives and preservatives like nitrites and sulfites to enhance flavor, extend shelf life and prevent bacterial growth,” Sabat said. “While these additives are generally considered safe by regulators, some studies have linked them to adverse health effects, including increased cancer risk.”

Some of the most common additives in processed meats are sodium phosphate, potassium nitrite, and sodium nitrate, so look out for these on nutrition labels. Sabat added that when you’re shopping, “it may be better to choose natural or organic deli meats that don’t have artificial additives.”

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Benefits of cooked meat

cooked meat

you can get more protein

The discussion of whether deli meat is bad for you can be a complicated one because, while it’s often high in sodium and preservatives, it can also provide lean protein.

“Deli meats, such as turkey or chicken breast, are good sources of lean protein, which is essential for muscle growth, repair and overall health,” says Best. “Also, choosing leaner deli meats — such as turkey or chicken breast — can be a healthier alternative to fatty meats because they contain less saturated fat and contribute to a balanced diet.” Protein in Deli Meat content to help control appetite and satiety, making them ideal for those aiming to manage weight or maintain muscle mass.

In fact, you’re already getting about 7 grams of protein in just two slices of regular deli chicken breast.

RELATED: 16 High-Protein Snacks to Keep You Full Between Meals

Many Deli Meats Contain Essential Nutrients

“In addition to protein, deli meats provide essential nutrients like iron and B vitamins, which play critical roles in energy production, oxygen delivery and overall vitality,” says Best.

Sabat added that some deli meats may also contain zinc, which is known to be essential for boosting immune system health.

So, is the deli bad for you?

Stacked Sandwiches with Cold Cuts

As you can see, the answer to this question is very complicated.

At the end of the day, deli meats can have some positive effects on your health and your overall diet, such as providing you with lean protein, B vitamins, zinc and iron. “[However]its high sodium content, its association with the risks of processed meat, the potential for contamination, and the use of additives and preservatives are important factors to consider,” Sabat said.

The fact that studies have shown many negative, serious side effects, such as an increased risk of cancer, high cholesterol, and heart disease, proves that cooked meat should indeed be eaten in moderation.

“Eating in moderation, choosing low-sodium foods, choosing fresh, unprocessed meats, and always choosing organic foods can help mitigate potential negative health effects,” Sabat said.

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