Why You Should Think Twice Before Eating Deli Meat

A good sandwich can make even the dullest of lunchtimes a highlight of your day. The whole premise of two slices of fresh bread protecting a blend of flavorful ingredients is genius! While it is completely up to you to choose what to stack between your two slices of bread, you might have an easier time choosing if you know what might be best to avoid. We know this might be heartbreaking for meat lovers, but it may be time to think twice before you choose deli meat.

The New York Times lists ham, bacon and turkey bacon, corned beef, pepperoni, salami, smoked turkey, bologna, sausages, and corned beef among the deli meat category. The variation of meats comes with different tastes and nutrient profiles. Registered dietitian nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, the creator of BetterThanDieting.com, toldĀ Well and Good that, "Not all deli meats are alike but unfortunately, most are high in sodium." Taub-Dix goes on to say that these meats often have shady ingredients like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), to help increase shelf life. Foods with high sodium levels and unpronounceable chemicals rarely make any "healthy eating" list. And if those two things aren't enough to make you put down your beloved Rueben, then maybe the subject of cancer will do the trick.

The connection between deli meats and cancer

According to The New York Times, consuming even the smallest amount of processed meats may increase your risk of getting colorectal cancer. Dr. Nigel Brockton, director of research for the American Institute for Cancer Research, tells the publication, "We see a 4 percent increase in the risk of cancer even at 15 grams a day, which is a single slice of ham on a sandwich," he says. There has also been a recent study showing an increased risk of breast cancer among women who often eat processed meat (via The New York Times).

The Provisioner reports that behind-the-glass deli meats have seen a decline in sales compared to past years. Charles Winship, the senior research analyst at Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based food industry research and consulting firm, explains how deli meats are trying to clean up their reputation. "There is a big push to adapt deli meats to consumer demands for clean labels and additive-free foods," he told the Provisioner. While the adaption is a step in a healthier direction, it may not be enough to make us order a sandwich stuffed with deli meat anytime soon.