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  • Ann Wade / Wade into Fitness

Processed Meat - Beware!

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Processed Meat - Beware!

"Eating more than one hot dog a week can reduce life expectancy by 25-35%"(1)! Yikes!

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) now classifies processed meat as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. IARC is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

"Processed meat includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats. It refers to meat that has been treated in some way to preserve, flavor or change it from its original form. Processes include salting, curing, fermenting, and smoking." Many of these meats are ground and reconstituted which allows the possibility of more contamination. Meat processed like this is often low grade/poor quality, but this is not seen by the consumer because food colorings are added and the new shape hides this. The quality of meats used, processing exposure and additives combine to increase health risk factors.

If you like meat in your diet, eat high quality meat with no processing and cook it yourself. If you can afford it, go organic. Cut the amount of meat in your diet overall by thinking of it as a small part of an overall meal rather than the main dish. You can also "stretch out" the amount of meat used by adding high quality additions such as whole grains or beans. For quick lunch meat, our family cooks organic chicken ahead of time, slices it, and freezes the extra in small packs to control the quality. Limit processed meat consumption to rare occasions.

A diet that limits processed meat and red meat, and is high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is the best bet. Choosing fish, poultry, beans and other natural sources of protein instead of red meat and processed meat is a more healthful approach.

(1) Barry M. Popkin, PHD W.R. Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition & adjunct professor of economics at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as report in Bottom Line Personal 3/1/16


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