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Why Is Processed Meat Bad for You? Side Effects & Risks

Why Is Processed Meat Bad for You?
Several studies have reported connections between processed meat and many types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Expenses exceed the benefits when it comes to eating processed beef. Factory farms are infamous for their cruelty to animals. Cattle, pigs, and chickens grown for processed meat have short lives in abhorrently terrible conditions.

Here are only a few reasons why processed meat is unhealthy for you, even if considerations of animal welfare are excluded from the discussion (although they never should be):

  • Studies report that consuming nine grams of bacon per day could significantly increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Eating salted meat can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Consuming processed meat has been related to earlier mortality.
  • Bowel and stomach cancer can be brought on by processed meat.

Ultimately, eating processed meat isn't worth the harm it causes to animals or your health.

Although animals suffer innocently because of the creation of processed meat, every mouthful you take can assist. Choose meals that are kind to animals, the environment, and your body by putting compassion on your plate. You'll be doing the world and your health a favor.

What is processed meat?

Any meat that has undergone preservation techniques including curing, smoking, or salting is processed meat. This includes meat that has been heavily processed with chemicals and preservatives.

There is no doubt that processed meat contains many dangerous compounds that are not naturally found in fresh meat.

A list of processed meat includes:

  • Bacon
  • Cured ham
  • Beef jerky
  • Hotdogs
  • Sausages
  • Canned meat
  • Salted meat
  • Smoked meat
  • Dried meat
  • Pepperoni
  • Salami
  • Bologna
  • Chicken  and turkey
  • Pastrami

How is meat processed?

Cured bacon and ham

  • Unfortunately, processed meat products such as cured bacon and ham inflict severe suffering on pigs and are directly connected to cancer in humans.
  • Nitrates that are added to cured meats, including hot dogs, to give the flesh a pinkish hue are what give bacon and other processed meats their cured flavor. These additions are a part of a marketing ploy intended to mislead consumers into believing that pink meat is healthy when it is anything but, especially given that nitrates generate compounds that cause cancer.

Hot dogs and sausages

  • Hot dogs contain "soluble" items, just like salami and sausages, which means they've been mixed with substances that serve as glue to maintain the desired shape together. Additionally, soluble products frequently contain animal body pieces that are rejected or less attractive.
  • Sausages are often less mixed compared with hot dogs although they can be wrapped in animal intestines to give them a tubular shape.
  • Consuming hot dogs is connected to a high risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and higher mortality, in part because of preservatives such as nitrates.

Salted meat and corned beef

  • Meat that has been salted is either packed in dried salt or put in a brine of water, salt, and occasionally other spices to preserve it.
  • One salt preservation technique is called corning, which involves preserving meat with salt chunks that are bigger and resemble corn kernels to produce corned beef.
  • Meat can be preserved for longer periods with salt curing although the method was mostly redundant once refrigeration technology was developed.

Smoked meat

  • Smoking meat is a technique well recognized for both preserving and seasoning meat. Its roots are in open-fire cooking.
  • Both cattle and fish flesh can be smoked; pastrami, for instance, is brined in salt before being smoked.

Beef jerky and dried meat

  • Beef jerky and dried meat both frequently undergo extensive processing. Jerky is salted and marinated in a variety of sauces and spices and is given other chemical compounds that are intended to extend preservation because it doesn't need any refrigeration at all. Before it is dried, jerky is frequently smoked and cured.

Canned meat

  • Diabetes, immune system dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease have all been linked to chemicals that are frequently used in the packaging of canned goods.
  • To sterilize canned meats and stop the spread of the fatal botulism bacteria, high temperatures are used, turning the meat into an unpleasant mush.

Risk of processed meat

Several studies have reported connections between processed meat and many types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Studies don't distinguish between red and white processed meat, such as turkey or chicken, or between meat with and without nitrates.

How processed meat increases cancer risk

Because processed meats, such as ham, bacon, and salami are listed by the World Health Organization as group I carcinogens (known to cause cancer), there is conclusive proof that they do so. A higher risk of bowel and stomach cancer results from consuming processed meat. Red meat, such as beef, lamb, and hog, is a group IIA carcinogen, which indicates it probably causes cancer.

According to recent studies, red and processed meats contain several carcinogenic compounds. These chemicals might be added or naturally occur in the meal. For instance, it has been discovered that N-nitroso compounds are created when a substance found in red meat called heme is broken down in the gut. These chemicals harm the cells that line the colon, which can result in bowel cancer. The same compounds are produced during the digestion of processed beef. These N-nitroso compounds are additionally produced by the nitrite and nitrate preservatives used to preserve processed meat, and they can cause bowel cancer.

How processed meat increases cardiovascular risk

Very little study has been conducted on the effects of processed meats (such as bacon, sausages, hot dogs, and deli meats) on heart health.

Researchers examined the diets and health outcomes of about 135,000 participants in 21 nations throughout a 10-year global survey. They studied meat consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) rates across a wide range of ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. The results, which were reported in journals, revealed that processed meat has a more notable effect on the risk of CVD and death than either unprocessed red meat or poultry.

How processed meat increases diabetes risk

The risk of type II diabetes may increase if a person consumes red meat, especially processed red meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs. The risk increases with the amount of processed or unprocessed red meat a person consumes.

Obesity and type II diabetes are related. It occurs when the body does not create enough insulin or when the cells do not use insulin effectively (insulin resistance). Insulin aids the body's utilization of glucose or blood sugar as an energy source. Diabetes problems, including heart disease, blindness, and nerve and kidney damage, can develop when blood sugar levels remain elevated.

A study conducted reported that the participants had a nearly 20 percent increased risk of type II diabetes if they had one 3.5-ounce plate of nonprocessed red meat per day, such as steak or hamburger.

A 51 percent high risk of diabetes was seen in people who consumed half as much processed meat like this, such as two pieces of bacon or one hot dog.

Bottom line

High-calorie, high-saturated-fat and high-sodium foods make people gain weight, get fatter, and have higher blood pressure, all of which can contribute to the development of diabetes and/or heart disease.

You can choose healthier options despite the recommendations. Consume a diet rich in lean proteins, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Enjoy red meat in moderation, and keep in mind that unprocessed beef is the healthier option when it comes to preventing cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.


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