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Are processed meats bad for you?

Generally, processed meats are considered unhealthy, because they have been linked with cancer and heart disease. Although correlation does not mean causation, it is still important for us to find out why processed foods are unhealthy for us. We need to dig deeper into this situation and do our best to avoid processed meats.

TLDR

  • Processed meats are linked to cancer and heart disease
  • You should avoid them
  • If really necessary, eat them at most twice a month

What are processed meats?

According to Wikipedia, processed meat is considered to be any meat that has been modified in order either to improve its taste or to extend its shelf life.

Bacon is one of the processed meats.
Bacon with eggs sound like the perfect breakfast right?

Some examples include

  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Sausages
  • Luncheon meat

Now that you know what is processed meat, why are they bad for you?

What have processed meats been shown to cause?

Cured meats have been shown to cause several chronic diseases and have been shown to be linked with an unhealthy lifestyle.

Heart Disease

Processed meats have been linked to heart disease.
Your heart is important after all.

This meta-analysis done in 2010 has shown that “process meat intake was associated with a 42% higher risk of Chronic Heart Disease”. Although the mechanisms and the causes behind processed meat causing chronic heart disease is still unknown according to the study, it is better to err on the side of caution.

People who are in weak health or old age should, therefore, have a stronger case in avoiding processed meats.

Diabetes

Processed meats can also cause diabetes.
Processed meats can also cause diabetes.

In this 17 year study, results have shown that people were 38% more likely to develop diabetes if they consume processed meats on a daily basis. Although this may not have been the real cause behind diabetes, it has shown a significant correlation with obesity, which can be a cause of diabetes as well.

This is just one of the many diseases processed meats are linked to.

High Blood Pressure

If you have hypertension, you should have been avoiding processed foods, especially processed meats. This is because they are generally filled with unhealthy nutrients.

This study shows that there is a “significant age interaction between hypertension and cured meat consumption”. This means that there is a strong correlation, and thus it is potentially unhealthy for you.

High blood pressure is also more common in older people. Therefore, the elderly should avoid processed meats too.

Carcinogens

Processed meats contain a lot of carcinogens.
Pink Ribbon

What are carcinogens?

According to Wikipedia, a carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that promotes carcinogenesis, the formation of cancer. Thus it can be said that carcinogens are a common cause of cancer.

The most shocking thing is that processed meats contain carcinogens. Although these carcinogens may not directly lead to cancer, it can still be one of the many factors that cause lethal diseases.

This is one main reason why the consumption of processed meats puts our health in a very high state of risk.

PAHs

What are PAHs?

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a class of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline.

This is a result of preserving the meat through smoking in order to prolong the shelf life and bring out the flavour of the meat. The bad news is, the science shows that heavy consumption of PAHs increases the chances of cancer.

Conclusion

Moderation is key!
Try to maintain a balanced diet.

All these factors show that processed meats are generally unhealthy and contain many chemical compounds that are often not found in fresh poultry. Therefore, eating a high level of such meats for a prolonged period of time can increase the risk of such chronic diseases and may lead to bad health.

Although I agree that its flavour is unbeatable and its convenience is just unprecedented, please do take note of the effects it has on your health. Eat them in moderation. Personally, less than twice per month.

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