Cured Meats: Don’t Ham it Up! 12/10
(This article is adapted from the “Good Living” column in the December 2010 ShopSmart magazine.)
Cured meats like ham, bacon, hot dogs, and smoked fish are yummy, but you might want to cut back a bit—and not just because of the high levels of sodium and fat.
Nitrosamines are the culprit
Nitrites/nitrates are often used in the curing process and can cause nitrosamines to form on the meat and in your body. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic in animals, and the Environmental Protection Agency identifies them as probable human carcinogens, although there is no definitive proof that they cause cancer in people.
Manufacturers have taken steps to prevent nitrosamines from forming by adding antioxidants, like vitamin C. But cured meats are still risky. And buying "uncured" meats won’t necessarily solve the problem.
"Uncured" meats might be made with a natural form of sodium nitrite or nitrate, such as celery powder or juice, which also can cause nitrosamines to form.
Bottom line: buy less cured meat. And remember that "uncured" meat might not be any better.
Keep in mind that even if you do manage to find truly uncured meat, you’re not in the clear. Uncured meat has a shorter shelf life than cured meat and a slightly higher risk of botulism poisoning. Botulism isn’t easily killed by cooking and can be lethal.
Sausage linked to heart disease, diabetes risk 5/10