Harmful effects of processed meats….

Harmful effects of processed meats….

processed meatsProcessed meats have always been the easiest means of getting a meal ready. They are very convenient and popular. They end up in your breakfast menu as bacon and eggs, in sandwiches and hot dogs etc.They are usually highly salted, may be made in unhygienic conditions and are high in saturated fats, the kind of fats that are bad for the heart.The processed meats commonly consumed are sausages, salami,bacon, ham, hot dogs etc..

Processed meats are usually made by preservative methods such as salting, nitrate preservation which are harmful when consumed in excess..Many of these meats are found to be containing chemical pollutants such as heavy metals such as mercury, traces of pesticides and can carry bacterial contamination. If these meats are not preserved uniformly, they can be highly dangerous and can result in infective out breaks… A friend of mine who regularly consumed preserved meats, never bothered to preserve them at the right temperature as it is ideal to freeze such meats. He was later detected with listeria infection for which he was hospitalized. For all those who do not know what a listeria infection is, it causes fever, diarrhoea and can affect the nervous system which can cause confusion, loss of balance, body stiffness. Hence Pregnant women should strictly avoid eating such meats as it can cause devastating effects on the unborn child. Meningitis or in simple words brain fever can occur if left untreated and can be fatal.

As I had mentioned about heavy metals, they can be toxic to our liver, kidneys and pancreas and can cause cancers of these organs or their failures. These metals can also accelerate the brain cell deterioration making the consumer prone to Parkinsonism and Alzheimer’s diseases.

The main cancer causing ingredients are the preservative added are nitrates and nitrites. These chemicals are carcinogenic and has been known to cause pancreatic cancers. Why are these so dangerous? Every body wants to buy fresh “looking” meat or atleast the food industry knows this. It is not possible to sell all the meat hence to preserve and to sell old stocks more and more of the meat industry are using these chemicals to give a fresh look to the meat products, which can easily camouflage the grey colour of meats and they turn to bright pink or red. Can you imagine keeping fresh meat for 3 months in the deep freezer? No right, but you are ready to refrigerate processed meats as per the expiry date,right?

Processed meats are not only high in saturated fats and are also high in transfats and very low on fiber. Being low on fiber, they can increase the risk of colorectal cancers.

So try to keep such meats as an occassional snack and team them with lot of veggies which will negate the effects of these meats.

How can you eat meats?

  • Choose fish and fresh meats such as poultry.
  • Go for leaner cuts which will decrease your fat contents.
  • Use healthier methods of cooking such as baking, broiling etc.
  • Go Halal, you dont need to be a Muslim to eat halal, such meats are freshly cut and they never serve old or stale meats. Hence any stomach upsets after eating halal food is very rare. (I can vouch for that).

Try to be a healthy non-vegetarian, by making smarter choices and keep those dead, preserved meats out of your refrigerator.

Sanjana M Shenoy is a A dietitian from Mangalore, Karnataka, India. Having worked as a Dietitian for the Manipal Group of Hospitals namely KMC hospital Mangalore, India.She is also a consultant for corporate's like Infosys and others, conducting talks and presentations for various associations and local television shows.She consults at her Diet and Nutrition clinic "Nutrihealth" in Mangalore.Also is a visiting consultant to various hospitals in and around Mangalore and also runs an active online consultation.

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