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Monday, January 30, 2023

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Unsettling Facts About Deli Meat

Every morning parents around the world get up, get their kids ready for school and pack their school lunches. A “go to” for many parents is sandwiches: stacked with several slices of ham, turkey, roast beef or mounds of peanut butter and jelly. But did you know you only have 3 to 5 days to use all the lunch meat in the package? According to nutritionist expert Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, after 3 days the risk of deli meat growing listeria increases.

The CDC estimates that each year approximately 1,600 people suffer from Listeria related illnesses and 260 people die from food poisoning. The only way to kill this bacteria is through cooking and pasteurizing meat. However, in a lot of ready-to-eat meats contamination can occur during one of the following procedures: after factory cooking, or before packaging, or at the deli counter. Those who become infected by Listeriosis bacteria often face having an unusually high fever and muscle aches sometimes followed by diarrhea, headaches, loss of balance, and confusion. People with compromised immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women and children are the most susceptible to becoming ill from this food-borne illness.

If that wasn’t enough to worry about Despina Hyde, a registered dietitian, warns meat lovers about the chemicals that are added to keep deli meat looking fresh.

“They’re full of chemicals-nitrates and added sodium. And the fats in them are particularly unhealthy for us. They even add colorings,” said Hyde in a news report.

In ham and salami the preservative sodium nitrite helps give these delicious meats their pink coloration. But in the long run and in huge doses, nitrate can damage cells and change into molecules that cause cancer. Also the preservatives in processed meats can cause cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Another problem with deli meat is the tremendous amount of sodium that’s packed into each slice. Just one slice of bologna contains 300 mg of sodium. Now if you back several pieces your meaty cold cut sandwich becomes packed with sodium, almost more than the recommended amount. The American Heart Association recommends we shouldn’t eat more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.

Ways to have nitrate free meat is to cook fresh meat at home and eliminate processed meats. You can still make the kids sandwiches just instead use cooked turkey, ham and chicken that you prepared the previous day.

I’m not saying you need to go cold turkey on deli meat instead try eating it less frequently. If you do decide to buy lunch meat try sticking to low-sodium turkey breast and stick to no more than two slices of meat. But if you can stick to nitrate free meat before munching on your next bite.

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