Do you use processed meat? Do you know that these meats are harmful to the body? Processed meat is generally unhealthy and is associated with diseases such as cancer and heart disease. There is no doubt that processed meat contains many harmful chemicals that are not present in fresh meat. This article takes a closer look at the health effects of processed meats. In this article from the section Nutrition Dr. Salam, we will investigate the cause of harmful processed meat.
What is processed meat?
Processed meat is meat that is prepared by sprinkling salt, smoking, drying, or canning. Categories of food products as processed meat are:
- Sausage, hot dog, salami
- Mutton ham
- Salty and improved meat, salty beef
- Smoked meat
- Dried beef
- Canned meat
On the other hand, meat that is frozen or subjected to mechanical processes such as cutting and slicing is in the category of unprocessed meat.
Consumption of processed meat is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle
Processed meat has always been associated with harmful effects on health. It is a fact that health-conscious people have been aware of for decades. For this reason, consuming large amounts of processed meat is more common among people who have unhealthy lifestyle habits. For example, smoking is more common among those who consume more processed meat. They also consume less fruits and vegetables.
Processed meat is associated with chronic diseases
Eating processed meat is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases. These diseases include:
Studies show that people who eat processed meats are more likely to get these diseases, but they cannot prove that processed meats are the main cause of these diseases. In addition, all of these results have been confirmed in animal studies. For example, studies in mice show that eating processed meats increases the risk of colon cancer.
The bottom line is that processed meats contain harmful chemicals that increase the risk of developing chronic diseases. The following are some of these compounds.
Nitrite, compounds N-Nitroso And nitrosamines
N-Nitroso compounds are carcinogens, and many experts believe that these substances are responsible for some of the side effects of consuming processed meats. They are composed of nitrite (sodium nitrite) which is added to meat products. Reasons to add sodium nitrite as a food additive include:
- To preserve the color of the meat
- To improve the flavor by eliminating fat oxidation
- To prevent the growth of bacteria, improve the taste and reduce the risk of food poisoning
Nitrite compounds and related compounds such as nitrate are also found in other foods. For example, nitrates are found in relatively high amounts in some vegetables and may even be good for your health. However, not all nitrites are the same. Nitrite in processed meat can be converted to harmful N-nitroso compounds, which are very harmful to health.
Processed meat is the main source of nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are formed when meat products are exposed to high temperatures, such as frying bacon or grilled sausages. According to studies, nitrosamines may play an important role in the development of colon cancer.
Cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Smoked meat is one of the oldest methods of preservation, often combined with salt and drying. This leads to the formation of a variety of potentially harmful substances, including cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons are a large group of substances that are produced when burning organic matter. They go up in the air with the smoke and are placed on smoked meat products and grilled meat, grilled or roasted on the fire. They can consist of:
- Burning wood or charcoal
- A drop of fat that burns on hot surfaces
- Burnt or charred meat
For this reason, smoked meat products can contain high amounts of cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Heterocyclic amines in processed meat
Heterocyclic amines are a group of chemical compounds that are formed when meat or fish are cooked at a high temperature, such as frying or grilling. They are not limited to processed meats, but are found in significant amounts in sausages, fried bacon and meat burgers. The level of heterocyclic amines can be minimized by using low temperature cooking methods such as low heat frying and steaming. It should be noted that you should not eat burnt and blackened meat.