Are Processed Meat Sandwiches Shortening Your Life? Learn to Build a Healthier Lunch!

The perfect sandwich – meat, cheese, lettuce, possibly some condiments, all between two slices of bread – can make for a satisfying meal. But, beware of the processed meats often used in these tasty creations as they can negatively impact your health. Heart disease, migraine headaches, weight gain, and general malaise are just some of the concerns when consuming processed meats. However, armed with the right information and better sandwich-making choices, we can still enjoy sandwiches while maintaining or even improving our health.

The Sandwich Situation

At first glance, processed meats might seem like a convenient and delicious option for sandwiches. However, many cold cuts or lunch meats combine ingredients from turkey, beef, and pork, which include various animal parts and not the best quality ingredients. These processed meats are typically filled with added fats, gelatins, and preservatives that humans shouldn’t be eating. Popular bologna, ham, turkey, and roast beef slices are high in fat, cholesterol, salt, fillers, and preservatives.

Negative Effects of Processed Meats

These processed meats turn a seemingly innocent sandwich into a high-calorie junk food item. Consuming these meats daily increases the risk of heart and kidney disease, obesity, and diabetes. The sandwich fillings contain fats that can lead to high cholesterol. The sodium nitrate – used to preserve freshness, color, and texture – is a leading cause of migraine headaches and undifferentiated body pain.

A recent study published in the online edition of BMC Medicine indicates that processed meats could be associated with increased mortality; people who eat large amounts of processed meats might increase their likelihood of dying sooner by 44 percent.

Build a Better Sandwich

The study’s findings might sound alarming, but don’t worry – it is still possible to enjoy sandwiches without risking your health. The key is making better sandwich filling choices:

  1. Avoid cold cuts with uniform color, texture, and shape as they are processed and fake.
  2. Choose cold cuts that resemble real meat. The meat should have visible grains, non-uniform slices, and varied texture, such as beef slices with visible lines of fat.
  3. Opt for less fatty meats like turkey, chicken, and lean roast beef.
  4. Go for meats without fillers, additives, and preservatives that are also gluten-free and chemical-free.

Brand Awareness

Knowing which brands to purchase makes it easier to create a better sandwich. A couple of recommended brands include Applegate Farms and Boar’s Head. Applegate Farms is certified organic and has no artificial colors, flavors, ingredients, nitrates, or nitrites. Boar’s Head offers gluten-free meats with lower sodium than mainstream brands and no fillers, artificial colors, flavors, or trans fats. What makes Applegate Farms stand out is its organic products and superior animal diet.

When making sandwiches, it’s also important to skip high-fat mayonnaise and processed white breads, which can contribute to weight gain and additional health risks. Instead, use organic whole-grain bread, baby spinach or arugula for extra vitamins, and organic whole-grain mustard.

It is best to limit consumption of processed meats and cold cuts. But when a sandwich craving strikes, make a better, healthier choice to help maintain a respectable life expectancy.