When we think of a healthy, on-the-go lunch, a sandwich often comes to mind. It’s quick, it’s convenient, and it usually contains most of the major food groups. But as is the case with so many other ‘health’ foods, it pays to be diligent and ask questions. Because unless you’re eating a veggie sandwich, you’re most likely piling on one questionable ingredient: deli meat.
It’s a bit strange to think of deli meat as being a processed food, but in fact, many different types of deli meat are exactly that. Cold cuts such as pastrami, bologna, and ham are often loaded with preservatives like sodium nitrite and nitrate, a known carcinogen. There’s conflicting information out there, but regular consumption of these preservatives has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Processed meats are also very high in sodium, which is typical of processed foods. Now, we don’t necessarily have an issue with salt, provided that it’s coming from natural sources, and Lynell touches upon that in this post. But sodium in processed foods? It’s bad news, folks.
So what to do? Bid farewell to sandwiches? No, it doesn’t have to come to that! While you could certainly opt for delicious vegetarian sandwiches like the ones Oh My Veggies has compiled here, there are other options out there.
When you’re perusing the deli aisle, look for labels such as ‘no nitrites or nitrates added’ – while the meat may still contain some nitrates, the levels should be lower. Also look for meats preserved with celery juice powder, a natural preservative. Brands such as Applegate Farms offer organic deli meat with low amounts of preservatives.
Alternatively, check out this great recipe list from The Kitchn and try making your own deli meat at home! Ham, roast beef, even prosciutto. I love to make homemade corned beef for St. Patty’s Day, not only for the amazing flavor but also because I know I’m eating something that’s free of preservatives.
Give it a whirl, and you may find that you can’t go back to those (all too) perfectly shaped logs of meat at the deli counter. :)