What is processed meat and how badly does it affect your overall health?
9 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Processed Meat
Processed Meat Definition: It’s any type of meat that went through preservation methods such as curing, smoking, and salting. This includes meat that contains loads of preservatives and chemicals.
Processed Meat List
What is considered processed meat? Before discussing the bad effects of processed meat, it’s best to know what items fall under this category.
That way, you’ll know what food choices you need to avoid. In fact, you might see a few of your all-time favorites on this list.
- Beef jerky
- Canned meat
- Cured ham
- Smoked meat
1. Puts You at Higher Risk of Diabetes
Does processed meat cause diabetes? The answer: not directly, but it does put you at a higher risk than someone who doesn’t eat processed meat.
A 17-year-long study on 8,000 human subjects shows that people who eat processed meat are 38% more likely to develop diabetes.
Diabetes is the impairment in the body’s ability to produce and respond to insulin. As a result, patients suffer from elevated glucose levels and an abnormal metabolic rate.
Of course, plenty of factors come into play before a patient develops diabetes. For example, your genetics and lifestyle are very important driving factors.
While you can’t really alter your genetics, people at risk of diabetes can make small, healthy lifestyle changes, such as avoiding processed meat.
2. Increases Blood Pressure
Medical professionals advise patients with hypertension to avoid food choices such as processed meat. That’s because these items are generally filled with unhealthy fats and sugar.
A study in 1988 showed that meat preservatives such as nitrite and elastin cause the arteries to stiffen. Over time, this can possibly develop into more serious health complications.
If you want to decrease the risk of developing hypertension, try avoiding processed meat. For example, instead of choosing pepperoni, salami, and bacon on your pizza, why not opt for tomatoes and herbs?
3. May Lead to Heart Disease
Processed meat such as bacon and hotdogs put you at a higher risk of developing heart disease. These foods are dangerously high in salt, nitrate, and unhealthy fats, which all lead to arterial stiffening.
In fact, a study in 2010 proved that people who regularly ate processed meats were more prone to coronary heart diseases than those who chose red meat. The respondents only consumed 100 grams a day, but the risk increased by more than 90%.
Patients who are already at risk of developing heart diseases should generally avoid processed meat. Opt for leaner alternatives with healthy fats such as salmon, tuna, and chicken breast.
4. May Cause Bowel Cancer
A lot of people are wondering whether processed meat causes cancer. Well, the regular consumption of processed meats may put one at risk of developing colon cancer.
It’s a type of cancer that develops from the colon or rectum. Symptoms of colon cancer include irregular bowel movements and bloody stool samples.
The main link between processed meat and cancer is the food preservative nitrite. These are harmful chemicals that can soon become health-damaging N-nitroso compounds.
Nitrite is the same chemical you might find in tobacco smoke, contaminated water, and pickled foods. Try avoiding these as much as you can to lessen the risk of developing colon cancer.
5. Contains Carcinogens
Processed meat carcinogens is a common cause of many types of cancer. Generally, any type of meat preserved through smoking, salting, or curing contains carcinogens.
While they may not directly affect the DNA, carcinogens can cause the cells to divide at a much faster rate. This leaves the body prone to DNA changes that lead to many types of cancer.
Of course, keep in mind that plenty of other factors affect the development of this lethal disease. In fact, the consumption of carcinogen in processed meat does not guarantee cancer.
What’s important is to remember that prolonged exposure and consumption of carcinogens puts the body at a higher risk.
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6. Is High in PAHs
Before digging into that juicy smoked bacon, keep in mind that they contain a high amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Smoking is one of the oldest and most popular ways to preserve meat. Not only does it prolong the shelf life, but it also brings out the meat’s umami.
While smoked processed meat is delicious, it can also increase your risk of developing cancer. Similar to carcinogens, heavy consumption of PAHs increases the chances of cancer cells forming.
The PAHs from processed meat comes from burning wood and charcoal. That’s why plenty of people avoid eating charcoal-burned meat parts.
7. Promotes an Unhealthy Lifestyle
Of course, eating processed meat doesn’t automatically make you unhealthy. But if you aren’t conscious of what you eat, you’ll easily develop a lot of bad habits.
In fact, a study suggests that people who avoid processed meat are more likely to make healthier food choices. The researchers performed the experiment on more than 1,800 respondents aged 19 to 84 years old.
Once you start avoiding processed meat, you’ll be more mindful of what you actually take in. This may encourage you to start eating more lean meat and fresh vegetables regularly.
8. Leads to Weight Gain
A large belly isn’t just unattractive, it also leads to certain health problems. People who are overweight and obese are more prone to various health complications.
Sadly, processed meat contains a lot of unhealthy fats responsible for adding inches to your waistline. To prevent gaining weight, try avoiding processed meat whenever possible.
Also, incorporate a quick exercise routine into your daily schedule if you want to lose weight fast. Remember, the only way to decrease your body fat is to increase the number of calories you burn and reduce the calories you consume.
9. Contains Loads of Sodium Chloride
The preservation method of salting heavily relies on sodium chloride. Remember that excessive consumption of this compound may lead to stomach cancer, heart disease, and hypertension.
Apart from avoiding processed meat, try skipping the table salt the next time you’re eating. Table salt is basically sodium chloride in its basic form.
Adding table salt to every single meal you eat might taste good, but it also affects your overall health negatively.
So, is processed meat bad? The answer: it contains bad chemicals and compounds, but it doesn’t automatically lead to life-threatening diseases.
You can still eat processed meat in moderation. A few slices of bacon every month or so shouldn’t affect your overall health negatively.
Would you stop eating processed meats? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!