‘What is processed meat?’- Just this question alone will have you drooling over images of juicy hamburgers and flavorful luncheon meats. But perhaps it’s time to start skipping the processed meat section in your local store. There’s more to processed meat than meets the eye, and it’s really not as pleasant as we would like it to be.
This is definitely not the first time that fresh meat and processed meat have been pitted against each other. This fiery debate has been making the rounds ever since processed meat made its packaged appearance on the shelves of big and small stores worldwide. But what’s the real deal behind this heated discussion? What is it about processed meat that gets some people so passionately riled up against it? Before we dive into our showdown between fresh meat and processed meat to determine which one should make it into your shopping cart, let’s first determine exactly ‘what is processed meat?’ Processed meat refers to meat products that are manufactured in factories with a minimum of 30% meat content. This meat is put through a series of processing stages which include curing, fermenting and pickling. Processed meat includes sausages, hot dogs, bologna and other commonly consumed ‘luncheon meats’. Now that you have a brief overview of ‘what is processed meat’, let the face-off begin!
As far as nutrient content goes, fresh meat takes the trophy hands down! Fresh meat is densely packed with nutrients such as zinc, iron, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. All these essential nutrients contribute to your overall health and keep you fit and disease-free. Processed meats on the other hand are jam-packed with nitrates, sodium and fats. Excessive consumption of these compounds is a sure-shot way to weaken your system and jeopardize your health!
Fresh meat eaters are generally blessed with better health than processed meat eaters. And why is that? Processed meat is a storehouse of chemical additives and possibly toxic residues including high quantities of sodium nitrate, MSGs and the residual genetically modified food that is fed to the animals. Reputable health associations such as the Dietitians Association of Australia and the National Heart Foundation have recommended that processed meat consumption should be controlled as much as possible because the accumulation of chemical additives slowly and gradually wreaks havoc in the normal functioning of the body.
What are the health risks of eating processed meat? Regular consumption of processed meat leads to weight gain and increases the incidence of obesity. Moreover, the high sodium content in processed meat weakens your blood vessels and puts you at a greater risk of heart disease. Experts have also detected a strong link between the nitrates contained in processed meat and the development of diabetes. Researchers state that these nitrates affect the insulin secretion levels and adversely affect the body’s blood glucose levels. Furthermore, studies conducted in Sweden and Hawaii have discovered that eating processed meat regularly leads to a higher chance of developing stomach cancer and pancreatic cancer.
The winner of this showdown is clear: the only meat that should find its way onto your dinner plate is fresh meat. Processed meat may be delicious and you might find it absolutely irresistible, but the negative effects of processed meat outweigh the scrumptiousness of it by a long shot. So make the right choice for your health and cut down on your processed meat consumption!