Meat Menace

Your seemingly harmless deli meat may have a secret that could harm your health according to a growing number of health officials and researchers.

Processed meats can be bad for your heart according to the American Heart Association due to their high levels of sodium and fat. A study done by the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii stated that those who eat large amounts of processed meats have a 67% increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Plus, most deli meats also contain nitrates, which have been linked to other forms of cancer in children.

Your sandwich may be harmful to not only you, but your baby as well. According to the American Pregnancy Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating undercooked hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats can cause dangerous infections that may lead to premature birth, miscarriage, infection of the fetus and stillbirths.

How to Avoid Deli Dangers

Before you give up your favorite sandwich for good, try these tips:

  • Check for the heart-check mark on meat packages. Heart checked packages indicate that the product is certified by the American Heart Association to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol. To find lists of certified deli meats, go to these websites for deli department meats and pre-sliced deli meats
  • Reduce your intake of processed meats such as bologna, sausage, salami and hot dogs.
  • "Healthy" meats can be high in calories, sodium and saturated fat. Make sure to read the health information labels on the back of pre-packaged meats before making your purchase.
  • When looking for processed sandwich meats select low-fat turkey, chicken, turkey ham, turkey pastrami or lean boiled ham. Check the amount of sodium; some have 25% or more of the daily value. These need to be avoided.
  • Try finding healthier brands. Many companies now produce organic, nitrite-free deli meats that are much better for you than the usual deli counter fare.
  • Avoid meats that list sodium nitrite as an ingredient.
  • If you are pregnant, heat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats to 160 degrees.

With some thought and a little bit of investigation, your sandwich will be healthy, and keep you healthy long after it's gone.