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Want Bacon On That? I'll Pass, Thanks.

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I'll admit it: I'm a total snob when it comes to processed meats. I like the taste of hot dogs and salami as much as the next person, and I used to eat those foods frequently. But when I got pregnant 4 years ago, I became much more conscious of the foods I eat and what is in them. Now I'm a label reader, and if something has a long list of strange ingredients in it, I won't eat it. Consequently, I won't serve it to my kids, either.

My friends and family always raise an eyebrow when they see me take the pepperoni off of my kids pizza, or politely decline breakfast sausage at a family brunch. Then they chuckle because it's just "Jen being slightly crazy about the foods her kids eat." My kids don't even notice. If my daughter wants to try a piece of sausage, I'll give her a bite. But I'm not going to load up her plate with it, because I just don't believe that foods like that have much of a place in a healthy diet. New research suggests I might be right.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, concludes that the salt and chemical preservatives in processed meats can raise the risk of diabetes and heart attack. The research, which analyzed previous studies, said people should limit their consumption of these meats to one serving per week or less to reduce their disease risk. This includes foods like bacon, hot dogs, processed deli meats, sausage and salami.

According to researchers who reviewed nearly 1,600 studies, they were "looking for evidence of a link between eating processed and unprocessed red meat and the risk of heart disease and diabetes. They found that on average, each 1.8 oz (50 grams) daily serving of processed meat a day -- one to two slices of deli meats or one hot dog -- was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of developing diabetes." People who ate only unprocessed red meats had no higher than average risk for heart disease or diabetes.

The researchers found that unprocessed and processed meats contained similar amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, but the processed meats had four times more sodium and 50 percent more nitrate preservatives.

I don't think any of these conclusions are very surprising, but maybe my family will rethink their reaction when my kids and I "pass" on the breakfast sausage.

What do you think? Do you eat any processed meats?

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I do eat the processed meats (and even give them to my kids), but I will definately think about it the next time I'm offered them. Thanks for the info. Report
We eat them when we want, but in moderation. But I only buy organic meats, plus the "dirty dozen" are organic at our house. Also, we eat reasonable amounts--for instance this AM we had a boiled egg, 1 toast with a little olive oil on it, and one strip of organic bacon...I don't worry about having food's we like when we eat this way. Report
Wow! We eat them sometimes. Sometimes more than once a week, then again, sometimes only once a month. I will be more cognizant now as to the frequency.

Thanks! Report
I used to eat a lot of processed meats, but have cut way down due to the sodium content. Report
Boars Head is the best deli meat you can buy. Head down to a Publix or Kroger to try some. Not all deli meat is processed. i have been doing deli work since I was 15 years old off and on. You will pay more for it but most of it is not processed. All the others. . . Sara Lee, Hormel. . . I wouldn't eat it. Report
No pigs meat, thanks.
I've been staying away from hotdags as well. Are there any turkey or chicken cold cuts that are preservative free? If so, what brand are they and where can I purchase them? Report
I ate processed meat when I was young and didn't know better. Six years ago I started eating healthy and stopped eating it. Old habits die hard and it took awhile to find good alternatives. My best so far is precooking chicken and turkey and freezing it in small portions for use like processed meat. That works for most things--but I still miss turkey bacon! Report
I love bacon. I like sausage and hot dogs. I don't too much care for cold cuts. Report
I eat deli lunch meat on occasion, but it tends to be expensive and I don't buy it often. It's easier to just eat last night's dinner leftovers for lunch the next day. But I do LOVE bacon and sausage. I'm a total biscuits and gravy girl, and to add extra flavor to a dish you can hardly beat bacon - so I do eat those. I have, however, switched to the crumbled, pre-cooked bacon you can get in the salad dressing section of the store. Way less fat, calories and hassle than cooking it myself. I HATE turkey bacon and all other bacon substitutes. As for hot dogs, I only eat Hebrew National 97% Fat Free. No meat by-products (cuz I grew up in Wyoming and KNOW what they put in regular hot dogs), no artificial flavors, and they've announced that they plan to reduce the sodium content in all of their products. Yay! Report
I put a tablespoon of crumbled bacon in my egg white omelet and get the flavor without so much fat Report
Growing up, my mother NEVER cooked bacon or pork- so breakfast sausages, pork bacon, etc., was not an option. (...but she loves bologna sandwiches. You couldn't get me to eat that stuff!) We usually had turkey bacon for breakfast, and I didn't mind it... that is until I got to college and had some thick sliced bacon fried up crispy in the skillet. Can somebody say DELICIOUS!?!! I don't know how I ate turkey bacon all those years, b/c they taste nothing alike.

So occasionally, I still have a craving for some crispy maple pork bacon, especially with some hot buttery thick grits :D. And I give into that craving every time...

I do eat sliced deli turkey in Subway sandwiches though... and I'll have a hot dog when I'm at a BBQ. But I've always stayed away from processed meats because of the high amounts of sodium... not b/c of preservatives- Report
Not a huge fan of processed meats, or "cold cuts". And although I enjoy bacon, it ALWAYS disagrees with me and I end up with a very upset stomach within minutes after I've finished it. Even turkey bacon didn't cut it, so I try and stay away from all that stuff as best I can -- which is pretty much always. Report
I love bacon, and sausage! I'm not sure that I could ever give them up completely... Report
I got sick once after eating a hot dog, so since I was about 10, I can probably count on one hand, how many hot dogs I've eaten over my lifetime. Never been a fan of sausage or bratwurst-type meats. I never liked deli meat until I was in my 30s. I try not to eat more than 2 oz. at a sitting, and usually will eat any other leftovers before turning to the deli meat in the fridge. Am not big on bacon, though a few weeks ago I tried a scallops-wrapped-in-bacon recipe. The first time, I made it with regular bacon; the second time I made the recipe with turkey bacon. Neither one did much for me... Report
I love my bacon too.. one of the things I have tried to give up. I could eat it by the pound but now limit it to 1 and a half slices twice a week so three slices a week. I tried turkey bacon but it just isn't "real" bacon.
I used to eat a lot of processed meat when we were working and took sandwich for lunch every day. we are tired of it now and never buy now that we are retired.
I do still have a lite hot dog maybe once a week.
I worked in a meat dept stocking the lunch meat, bacon and hot dog case for 35 years so if everyone ate healthy I would have been out of a job years ago. But that doesn't look like it is going to happen any time soon. it is the busiest dept in the store. Report
I never eat processed meats - can't even swallow them! I used to love hot dogs and bacon, but now I just can't get the idea of what I'm eating out of my head and it makes me sick. Report
I try to avoid them but I did have a hot dog today. Not as great as I remembered :-) Report
I'm a pescatarian, so I'm not eating processed meats. Report
something in processed meats triggers migranes for me.I've had to give them up. Report
Trader Joe's, Applegate Farms, and Henry's Marketplaces have nitrate, nitrite, and preservative free lunch meats, bacon, and hot dogs. You can have those meats, unprocessed, and eat them too! Report
I avoid the processed meats. I love bacon, but for my healths' sake, I have
sworn off. Yesterday, more of an experiment, I had a Turkey Sausage to see
what happened. This morning I woke up with a blinding headache, and had to
go back to bed with a heat pack, so no more processed anything for me. I got
the answer to my trial.....whatever ingredients are in there, they do not agree with
my system.. Report
I have eaten way too much processed meat in my time ... especially very spicy hot links. However, I'm trying to change my eating habits, with more veggies, and real unprocessed meats like wild salmon, chicken breasts, and beef.

Jim Purdy
m Report
My body started to reject bacon about a year ago. I felt sick every time I ate it so my doctor thought I was having problems with my gall bladder and after extensive testing we found my gall bladder to be healthy. I chose to give up bacon and processes meats and I have felt better. I am thankful for the wisdom of my body. Although, I must say I do crave a really good hot dog two times each year. I'm not sure why and why only twice, but most of the time I will indulge myself as two times a year won't kill me (I hope). Thanks for the great info. Report
I completely agree that moderation is the key. And no nitrite/nitrate alternatives are available at any good natural foods store. They taste way better too. And if you are using these things in moderation, they are even affordable. There are also all kinds of sausages these days, not just ones made from pork and they can be delicious. Report
Long sigh...moderation is key! The study, like many others, is accurate but it's not based on "moderation" but rather on over indulgence.

I love bacon, however, I limit myself to sliced bacon only on occasion namely when traveling because I do not buy sliced bacon. I do however buy "bacon bits" which I will use every once in a while when cooking if I do want bacon. I can use less than a serving and it satisfies my craving. I also enjoy an occasional "premium" or "select" type all beef hot dog with no nitrates and no fillers.

I base my decisions for what to eat or not eat on the information, my health, lifestyle, and discipline. Given those criteria I know that my decision is the right one for me and will NOT adversely affect my health.

Right now, with where my life is at with our kids and their ages... yes, we eat processed meat- sandwich meat, because the older ones can make sandwiches on their own. I would love and will pretty much do away with the processed, but it will be a process... a question... what do you do for lunches? (we home school, so I don't even have to send lunches, but still need it to be quick and easy) Report
It has been a very long time that I do not eat processed meats, precisely for all the reasons you have shared with us on this blog. Thanks for the information, I surely hope that a lot of members read it and start thinking about being more selective on their intakes. Report
My mom has a problem with processed meats sometimes, specifically baloney. She can't stop eating it. Report
Since I have joined SP program I have not touched any processed meats. So there is no cold-cuts in my house. I do not miss it. Report
I too love those tasty morsels of "processed meats"...but know that the increased sodium in them will wreak havoc & create more engorgement with my diseased legs.

When having an "Italian meal" I use chicken or turkey instead. Report
I agree with you and am so happy to hear that you don't give processed meats to your children.
I love bacon!! there... I said it! I can live without other processed meats. I try not to eat bacon on the regular, but I'm not ready to totally give it up either. Lately, I am using crumbled bacon instead, hoping that I'm consuming less (not sure about that). It seems a little goes a long way. After reading this blog, I am thinking that the crumbled bacon may have even more preservatives...I'll have to look into that. Report
This was an eye opener for me, thanks for including the link to the study. I will probably continue to eat processed meats, but I WILL be cutting back on the quantity. Report
Once a month I buy twelve ounces of center cut bacon.
I don't like to say 'never' about foods I love. I prefer 'less'. Report
Although I don't believe having a hot dog as a treat at the baseball game or BBQ is going to kill you, I've learned all things in moderation on SP and it's good to know where your food comes from. I think it all depends on where it's processed. The average package of bacon or hot dogs you buy at the grocery store usually has a list of ingredients and additives that are unrecognizable. So when I need my bacon or hot dog fix, I go to the local butcher who processes his meat products that he gets from local ranchers in the same method that his family has used for nearly 100 years. Report
Processed meats are a treat in my home. Certain things like breakfast pizza are just not good unless it has Canadian Bacon on it! Processed meats tend to give me and my oldest son a pre-migraine buzz. We both have problems with pork products so I rarely buy anything with pork in it. Hot dogs frighten me because of the choking hazard. I am going to try the Oscar Meyer nitrate free beef hot dogs when they go on sale. If they taste good, I may keep those on hand. If I am tempted to buy a processed meat, I just read the label and that usually changes my mind about bringing it into my home. Report
I rarely use processed meat products because I don't think they're healthy. Report
I quit eating most processed meats about 6 years ago. The only one I eat is turkey pepperoni on my homemade pizza (with spinach, red peppers, mushrooms, yum!). I actually only eat fish and chicken a few times a week, and hardly any other meat products at all. Bacon is just ICK! imho Report
I'm new to being a picky eater, but I'm starting to feel this way about ALL convenience foods! Ice cream, butter/margarine spreads, macaroni and cheese! When I can't make it myself (I enjoy making my own macaroni, but I live in an apartment and don't have room for a cow or goat) I look for all natural ingredients and if I can't pronounce what's on the label, it goes back on the shelf! :) Report
Pass on the bacon!?! ISn't that illegal in the 48 continental states?? :) If not illegal, it should at the very least be a sin!
I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooove my bacon! I will admit, I've switched to turkey bacon for about 80-90% of my bacon needs. But I still have never passed on the bacon!

As far as other processed meats: hot dogs have always freaked me out a little, so I've switched to turkey dogs and boy-oh-boy am I glad. They're delicious, and so much better for you! Report
While I dont eat many processed meats, I convince myself that bacon is the exception LOL. Keep your hot dogs, sausage, lunch meats, but bacon is in a class by itself.

Oh, I know its not good for you, but it adds so much flavor without using much, I treat myself on occasion. I dont eat it every day. Report
oh yes, i do but on occasion, and no i am not going to quit.
and as for you little ms. Jen Mueller tsk tsk tsk, shame on you for denying your children protein by picking peperoni off of their pizza.
but give me my bacon,bacon,bacon, bacon, no faken
on some fridays. Report
Ewww, I hate bacon, and most processed meats. I eat an occasional hot dog—maybe two or three times a year. My husband loves deli meat, though, and he's often feeding it to the kids. I just quoted some things from this entry, though. Maybe he'll think twice now. :) haha Report
I feel the VERY SAME way as Jen, I eat them far and few between -- being Italian, I generally only eat them when I go home to mom's and usually on a holiday she will have a big plate of antipasto with assorted salami's, procuitto, pepperoni which I LOVED as a kid and now it bothers me so much it's NOT WORTH EATING and hot dogs too ... over the past six weeks I detoxed for one week and have been eating a low gylcemic diet and had a hot dog and IT WAS SO NOT WORTH IT -- it bothered me the rest of the night -- I'm glad I ONLY LOOK for them in the summer ... but YES, NITRATES are the WORST!!! Report
Interestingly enough I have been very gradually eliminating most processed foods period. And find that I occasionally have vegetarian days. Don't get me wrong - I still have some processed foods, but not like I used to. Even less than two years ago when I lost the majority of my weight. Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice are still in the fridge - but the progresso soups were all donated to the food bank - with guilt for all the sodium that I figured out after I bought them - poor people. I'll be making healthier donations in the future.
But I do feel better over all with fresher, less processed food in my body - and when I donated blood - they were amazed at how high my iron level was - don't know if that has anything to do with it. Report
This sent me looking at the label of the franks we just purchased. Lots of variations on sodium. I am not a big hotdog fan anyway and only buy when the "best" are on sale which means rarely.

As for kids - I wish I'd given mine healthier foundations. Maybe we all wouldn't be struggling with food issues now. Report
Great Blog! I'm fighting with the "to feed or not to feed" problem when it comes to processed foods for my whole family, but more importantly, cows milk and hormone-filled meats for my daughter. I don't want her falling into this new generation of fertile girls starting at 8 years old! I'm convinced that if a farmer can give a hormone to a baby chicken that makes it mature 4 times quicker than nature intended, what is that doing to our children?! Report
We don't eat nearly as much as we used to. If some deli meat is on sale, I will pick it up and when it is gone it is gone, I don't buy more until the next payday. Sometimes it is nice to have a yummy ham or turkey sandwich or some homemade stromboli. We love pepperoni and usually make pizza every week. I buy turkey pepperoni which is alot better to me than the regular stuff. Great source of protein, too. I definitely try to do more with our fresh meats (chicken, venison, pork) and buying less processed stuff. Report
I do appreciate all the 'bad 'press over processed meats and to some degree I do agree , however for decades the farming community has had bacon for breakfast along with sausage etc...and they are not doing too bad on it! My grandfather is 80 this year and is extremely fit and ate bacon all his life while he was working - he found he didn't need to once he retired from the hotel trade 10 or so years ago. I think that if we all went back to how food used to be prepared by butchers there wouldn't be half as much rubbish put in as there now seems to be!! I eat bacon and occasionally sauage but being in the U.K we don't have the same types of processed meat that the U.S.A has - for instance real hot dog sausges are hard to come by when you're out and about (not that I mind as I don't like them) and as of yet I've never seen turkey rashers that people seem to eat!!! So yes I will keep eating bacon but I do cut all the fat off it before I grill it!! And then I do exercise to burn off the extra calories! Report
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