Processed meat is a term that refers to any kind of meat, other than that which is in raw form. It means anything that’s been cured, seasoned, cooked, dried, fermented or smoked, among other processes.
The meat that you find at the grocery store is rarely, if ever, raw. Salt and nitrate cures are applied to meats in order to prevent bacteria growth, thus giving them a longer shelf life. Bacon, for example, defines pork belly that’s been cured.
The notion of processed meat cancer is often well founded. In terms of effect, the correlation between meat and cancer has shown that people who regularly this kind of food have an estimated 17% higher chance of developing some form of cancer.
Processed meat list
Red meat is often given a bad reputation. This is due, mostly, to the presence of carcinogens, which are capable of causing cancer, and are commonly found in processed meats.
Cattle that aren’t organically grown are also subject to bovine growth hormone, genetically modified feed and other questionable processes. Their feed is also treated with pesticides, which also contain herbicides. Due to ‘fair packaging’ standards, many of the processes and ingredients are hidden behind illusive terms and marketing slogans.
Deli meats, like processed ham, turkey and beef are always processed. They’ve been cured, cooked, sliced and commonly flavored with high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.
Unprocessed meat, like fresh-caught venison and fish, are usually cured at home. This gives them flavor, breaks down the fibers of the meat to tenderize it, and allows for longer storage times. Like with all meats, sodium nitrate may prevent oxygen circulation in certain cells.
Smoked and grilled meat is often associated with intestinal cancer. This is due to the fact that cooking or burning meat at high temperatures will produce carcinogens.
Beef jerky, in the conventional varieties, also contain harmful ingredients. They’re given additional nitrates to increase their shelf life, which are often created chemically, and are dangerous for someone one a low-sodium diet.
What is the healthiest lunch meat?
It’s generally recommended to avoid deli meats. You can season, flavor and cook your own meats at home, and avoid the high fructose corn syrup, aspartame and chemical preservatives.
You can choose virtually any kind of meat. It’s more important to choose fresh, quality foods. At the very least, choose the meats at the deli section in your local grocery store that are cut on location, rather than packaged and shipped in from somewhere else.
You could also use a chicken jerky dehydrator, for example. Add in your own blend of herbs, spices and flavors to make your meat tasty. Homemade jerky is also convenient enough to prepare all at once, then eat at your family’s discretion.
Processed meat and cancer
We are in no way suggesting that meat causes cancer. However, there are some common practices and ingredients that can be avoided by choosing quality over convenience.
This is an expensive choice. Organically-grown, grass-fed beef, for example, will cost more than the conventional varieties of meat at the grocery store. On the other hand, there are ways to save money and protect your health.
The general recommendation is to reduce your intake of processed meats. Our suggestion is to purchase healthier meats in bulk in order to save money, as well.
You could also use a beef jerky oven to preserve your meat. Reducing the moisture content of uncured meat will help prevent bacteria growth and give it a longer shelf life. You can also use citric ingredients like wine and apple cider vinegar to tenderize the meat, rather than chemical nitrates.
A meat dehydrator is an effective way to preserve your red meats and avoid dangerous ingredients in conventional beef jerky!