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What is Processed Meat?

What is processed meat? Read to learn more.
Protein From Processed Meat
© BBC Good Food

When did you last eat processed meat? Is it something you enjoy?

Meat supplies us with protein, an important macronutrient that is needed for growth and repair. Meat also supplies numerous micronutrients including minerals like iron and zinc. However, there have been reports suggesting too much red meat, which includes beef, lamb, pork, venison, and goat in our diet may possibly pose a cancer risk.

That said, red meat in moderation, about once or twice a week, may form part of a healthy balanced diet, and is especially useful for women or girls of reproductive age who may experience low levels of iron. Meat is useful for addressing iron deficiency because it supplies a form of iron, known as haem iron, which is easy for us to absorb.

Ham and salami are examples of processed meat

What is Processed Meat?

When we talk about ‘processed’ meat we’re referring to any meat that has been modified to extend its life or change its taste. Processing typically involves smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. Examples of processed meat include:

  • pate
  • salami
  • bacon
  • sausages
  • ham
  • canned meat.

Typically, processed meat is produced from pork or beef, but may also include poultry, offal, and meat by-products such as blood.

Health Implications of Consuming Too Much

Including processed meat too frequently in your diet may mean you consume high levels of salt, saturated fat, additives, and compounds called nitrates which may not be good for your health. Nitrates have been associated with heart disease, changes in blood pressure, and cancer. It’s because of this link with cancer that we’re advised by health experts to limit our intake to what is considered safe levels.

Do you buy processed meat? Why do you choose it – is it because it’s convenient or because you love the taste?

© BBC Good Food
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