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Processed versus unprocessed meats
Old 12-17-2013, 11:10 AM   #1
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Processed versus unprocessed meats

I went looking for an article because my latest colonoscopy results were not as good as they could have been (but not worrisome either). Found this article: Harvard School of Public Health » HSPH News » Eating processed meats, but not unprocessed red meats, may raise risk of heart disease and diabetes

Their basic study findings:
Quote:
In a new study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that eating processed meat, such as bacon, sausage or processed deli meats, was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, the researchers did not find any higher risk of heart disease or diabetes among in dividuals eating unprocessed red meat, such as from beef, pork, or lamb
.
Unfortunately what I wanted to know is not available yet:
Quote:
... higher intake of total meat and processed meat has been associated with higher risk of colorectal cancer, but unprocessed red meat has not been separately evaluated.
A good take away about processed meats:
Quote:
“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating. Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid,” said Micha. “Based on our findings, eating one serving per week or less would be associated with relatively small risk.”
P.S. Confession: I ate a piece of bacon 2 days ago.
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:36 AM   #2
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Sodium nitrate is the preservative ingredient in processed meat that has been blamed. For some years now, meat producers are required to mix in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which inhibits the formation of nitrosamines in the body after consumption.

Is the above sufficient to negate the risk? I have not been able to find a straight answer.
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:53 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
Sodium nitrate is the preservative ingredient in processed meat that has been blamed. For some years now, meat producers are required to mix in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which inhibits the formation of nitrosamines in the body after consumption.

Is the above sufficient to negate the risk? I have not been able to find a straight answer.
The article I linked to sites a wide ranging study of 1600 studies from various countries. So I guess it did not separate out the US. Plus the study was published in 2010. Don't know what years it encompasses.

Anyway, unless I hear different I'll reduce the processed meats in my diet a lot. That means I'll be cutting out those yummy baloney and salami sandwiches, ham, etc. But maybe I'll have an occasional piece of bacon. Will go with more fish, chicken, and plant based food and fewer unprocessed meat dinners.
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Old 12-17-2013, 12:19 PM   #4
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Highly processed meats have joined my list of food items that I now consume less often and in smaller amounts.

IMHO, the closer our food is to how it comes out of the ground or off the animal, the better. Some things like seasoning, cooking and fermentation are needed to make the food more palatable and in some cases more nutritious. But, we really don't have to mix them with chemicals we can't pronounce, process them in ways only a research chemist with a huge factory can do, and then combine them together in ways that are unnatural and sometimes rather perverse.
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Old 12-17-2013, 12:28 PM   #5
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sounds like a good reason to switch from salami to parma prosciutto.
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:01 AM   #6
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... or switch to vegetarianism.

Though even we vegetarians struggle with the processed versus non-processed issue. Yesterday's lunch was veggie dogs - no nitrites (there's nothing like meat in them to go bad in such a manner to warrant such processed preservatives) but loads of processed ingredients and gluten. Today's lunch will be proper: Homemade bean soup.
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Old 12-18-2013, 07:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lsbcal View Post

P.S. Confession: I ate a piece of bacon 2 days ago.
My butcher has bacon cut right off the pig. Fits in with Paleo nicely. no added junk.
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Old 12-19-2013, 09:52 AM   #8
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My philosophy is just to eat a balanced diet. Instead of worrying about a particular product such as meat or processed meat you should look at everything you eat in combination and in context. Obviously the "average" American diet is not serving us well. There is good research to recommend the Mediterranean Diet. Michael Pollen's advice to - "Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much" is sensible. As retirees we have less excuse to say we don't have enough time to shop and prepare real food. I would also say that a lot of us find cooking to be an enjoyable and creative activity that occupies some of our new found time.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:08 AM   #9
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We buy some processed meat without the added nitrites. Most of the stores around us carry this as a choice now. Our local Costco has nitrite free Canadian bacon and Trader Joe's has nitrite free bacon and hot dogs.

If it was just me I probably wouldn't buy any kind of processed meat but the rest of the family would rebel if I just made meals like organic quinoa with black beans and kale for dinner.

We bought a little table top convection oven that makes it really easy to make foods like steak and chicken, so I would rather buy whole chickens on sale for 79 cents a pound and cook those up for sandwiches and rice bowls than pay $8 a pound for salty, processed lunch meat, nitrites or not.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:15 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort View Post
so I would rather buy whole chickens on sale for 79 cents a pound and cook those up for sandwiches and rice bowls than pay $8 a pound for salty, processed lunch meat, nitrites or not.
+1

Except for good prosciutto
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:23 AM   #11
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Stupid question, but are meatballs processed meat? I eat at Subway a couple of times a week, and used to get sandwiches with pepperoni, salami, etc. To be more healthy, I moved the meatball sandwiches. These Subway visits are my only intake of meat in a week, so it's not like I eat a ton of it either way. But it would be nice to think the meatballs are healthier than the pepperoni.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Xjfn View Post
Stupid question, but are meatballs processed meat? I eat at Subway a couple of times a week, and used to get sandwiches with pepperoni, salami, etc. To be more healthy, I moved the meatball sandwiches. These Subway visits are my only intake of meat in a week, so it's not like I eat a ton of it either way. But it would be nice to think the meatballs are healthier than the pepperoni.
Depends on how they make their meatballs. If I make meatballs at home, I use meat, bread crumbs, eggs, and seasonings, so nothing unpronounceable.

Official SUBWAY Restaurants' Nutrition Information;
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:44 AM   #13
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Got this off the web:

SUBWAY
Italian Bread - Enriched flour (wheat flour, barley malt, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sugar, contains less than 2% of the following: soybean oil, yeast, salt, wheat protein isolate, wheat gluten, dough conditioners (acetylated tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides, ammonium sulfate, calcium sulfate, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, potassium iodate, amylase [enzymes]), sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, mineral oil. Contains soy and wheat.

Meatballs - Beef, water, soy protein concentrate, breadcrumbs (bleached wheat flour, sugar, salt, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, yeast), egg whites, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, Romano cheese (made from pasteurized sheep's milk, culture, enzymes, salt), spice, dehydrated parsley, caramel color added. Marinara Sauce: tomato puree (water, tomato paste), crushed tomatoes, corn syrup, soybean oil, modified food starch, salt, dehydrated onions, parsley, spices, onion powder. Contains egg, milk, soy, and wheat.

And provolone cheese.

My guess is that they are not using grass fed beef, organic anything, and that they might be using more bread crumbs than either you or I would use if making them at home.

Also note that when Subway says their sandwiches are fresh they mean that they assemble the sandwich in front of you. They do not mean that the ingredients are fresh.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:59 AM   #14
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Bought a meat grinder last year and have been experimenting with grinding our own meat.

The beef looks incredible when it comes out of the machine. Take a little prep but kind of fun. You can make your own sausage but have not gone that far as of yet................
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Old 12-19-2013, 12:00 PM   #15
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I don't consciously avoid processed meats.

But you know, now that I think of it, I don't supposed I have had any processed meats for months. The last I remember was a club sandwich with a piece of bacon in it, several months ago. Gumbo often has sausage in it, but in the restaurants we go to that is always homemade sausage so I think that doesn't count as a processed meat.

In my weight loss attempts I am eating so much (unprocessed) chicken breast that I could start clucking any day now.
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Old 12-19-2013, 12:07 PM   #16
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Sausage and bacon aren't necessarily "processed" in the way we think of them. Before we moved, we had a great local meat market that sold fresh sausage and bacon with no preservatives. Of course, you had to use or freeze them within a few days (not weeks or months). We used to buy their sausage and freeze them two links at a time, and their bacon and freeze them about 6 slices at a time (both ideal for use in two meals).

I tend to think it's the packaging and preservatives in most store-bought bacon and sausage (making them "good" for months) that is the culprit, not the meat itself.
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Old 12-19-2013, 12:34 PM   #17
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I stick to

"Eat real food, mostly animal based, not too much."
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Old 12-19-2013, 12:40 PM   #18
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The controversial preservative in hot dogs as well as many cured meats is sodium nitrate. In the mouth, it is converted by saliva into sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite may combine with amines in proteins to form nitrosamines, under grilling or inside the human stomach. It is nitrosamines that is carcinogenic in animals.

It is most interesting to note that sodium nitrate is found freely in nature, particularly celery! In fact hot dog makers use celery juice as a source of their sodium nitrate.

As noted earlier, US makers of cured meats have been required since 1970 to mix in ascorbic acid (vitamin C), since it is found to inhibit the formation of nitrosamines.

Adding further to the confusion, a Web article I found has the following excerpt.
Several decades ago, some researchers raised the possibility that nitrites could be linked to cancer in laboratory rats. This suggestion received a lot of media attention. What received less media attention, however, was when further research revealed that they were wrong. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Cancer Society and the National Research Council all agree that there's no proof of cancer risk from consuming sodium nitrite.
PS. Nitrosamine itself is found in beer. It does not come from the brewing process, but from fire-drying of barley malt.
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Old 12-19-2013, 02:36 PM   #19
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I tend to think it's the packaging and preservatives in most store-bought bacon and sausage (making them "good" for months) that is the culprit, not the meat itself.
+1

Having made a lifelong career as an industry insider, I can tell you with great certainty that "shelf life" is what it is all about. MegaMeatCo needs to be able to produce their product, have it transported, retailed, and then ultimately handled by the consumer, all the while avoiding spoilage that could negatively impact its reputation - or worse. Hence the processing additives most can't pronounce, let alone identify.

If it is essentially a ready to eat (RTE) product, i.e. sausage, hot dogs, ham, sliced lunch meat - it is likely loaded up preservatives. I tend to prefer the local meat market products, but it is also possible to obtain MegaMeatCo products that are less processed if one knows what to look for. Raw cuts requiring cooking and other preparation are far less likely to contain said preservatives.
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Old 12-19-2013, 06:00 PM   #20
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Try fitting processed meats into a 1500 mg/day low sodium diet, and let me know which one you prefer then...
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