Processed Meat and Possible Health Risks
Hot dogs, packaged sandwich meats, sausage, and bacon, have been a popular food choice for many households. This is especially true today, when hard economic times have left families struggling to put less expensive meats on the table. The question is, are these processed meats safe for people to eat, or can they pose health risks for consumers?
To begin with, many of the foods mentioned above are rich in saturated fat, which can raise the LDL, or bad cholesterol level in a person’s blood, putting them at an increased risk for heart related illnesses. Processed meats also contain a high level of sodium which can increase your risk for high blood pressure, which is another risk factor contributing to heart disease.
Another possible health risk to consider is that many processed meats contain sodium nitrite, which is thought to raise your risk for developing certain cancers. Nitrite is a preservative that can help inhibit botulism from developing in these foods, as well as enrich the color of your meat to make it look fresh.
What other possible health risks are associated with the use of processed meat?
• Some studies conducted indicated an increased risk of colorectal polyps, and cancer.
Research groups that consisted of group one, who consumed a large portion of processed meat, versus those in group two who consumed the least amount, reflected the first group were almost twice as likely to develop polyps than the second group. Although all polyps may not become cancerous, your risk for developing cancer may increase according to the size and number of polyps you have.
Again, test study groups showed those individuals who consumed the larger amounts of processed meats, particularly red meats, were at a higher risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Research shows nitrites may play a role in glucose intolerance leaving you at risk for developing this chronic condition.
• Increase Risk for Obesity
Processed meats are higher in calories and fat; therefore, consuming large quantities of processed meat, versus whole meats, can contribute to unwanted weight gain, which can eventually lead to obesity. In fact, obesity is now one of the leading causes contributing to health problems today.
• May increased risk for Pancreatic Cancer
Recent studies have even linked processed meat with an increased risk for pancreatic cancer, but with no confirmed results out on this finding. These particular allegations are especially disturbing since this form of cancer seems to be on the rise.
• Association between Nitrites and Migraines
Whole meats are a healthier choice to include in a nutritious diet to avoid any negative health risks that are associated with consuming processed meat. These can include chicken, turkey, lean red meats, salmon, and other fish, along with other healthy food items such as fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and nuts.