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Why is deli meat unhealthy?

cheesehead in recovery Feb 28, 2010 06:34 PM

I know deli meat isn't great for you...and I was trying to explain the "whys" to my husband,because I don't want my kids eating too much of it. How is it prepared differently than other meats? (I'm a vegetarian, and don't go near the stuff....)

  1. goodhealthgourmet Feb 28, 2010 06:46 PM

    "deli meat" is a broad category. are we talking bologna? turkey? ham? packaged? fresh-sliced? most of the unhealthy ones contain a lot of additives and preservatives. and rarely are they actually whole cuts - they're typically made from meat that's ground/processed, mixed with seasonings, additives and fillers, and then pressed/molded into blocks or "breasts" that can be sliced.

    1. The Professor Feb 28, 2010 07:03 PM

      Deli meat may have higher levels of fat, sodium, and things like that than other forms of protein but deli meat (like almost anything you can consume) is only unhealthy if that's all you eat, 7 days a week.
      The trick to enjoying these delicacies without worry involves a simple concept American are unfamiliar with:

      3 Replies
      1. re: The Professor
        LolaP Feb 28, 2010 07:52 PM

        I agree. And also, there is such a huge difference between say, Oscar Meyer bologna or that "chopped pressed formed" stuff and nice slices of whole chicken or turkey breast from the deli counter. The latter are not high in fat, and if you get the low sodium kind, while still salty, won't hurt you if they aren't the only thing you eat!

        1. re: The Professor
          Just Visiting Jan 26, 2011 12:24 PM

          Delicacies? Deli meat?

          1. re: Just Visiting
            coll Jan 27, 2011 04:13 AM

            That's what deli is an abbreviation of (see below). Anyway ask my husband, they are delicacies to him!

            [German Delikatessen, from pl. of Delikatesse, delicacy, from French délicatesse, from Italian delicatezza, from delicato, delicate, dainty, from Latin dlictus, pleasing; see delicate.]

        2. w
          Whats_For_Dinner Feb 28, 2010 08:03 PM

          A lot of the stigma surrounding deli meats comes from the use of nitrites in curing.

          Nitrites prevent the growth of deadly stuff like botulism. However, when heated to high temperatures, or under certain other conditions, they can break down to harmful compounds which have been linked to cancer.

          As such (and correct me if I'm wrong, charcuterie experts!) I believe that nitrites are generally used in uncooked cured meats (i.e. sopressata) which are generally not heated.

          Nitrates are a different animal. Nitrates do not form the carcinogenic compounds I mentioned.

          Carcinogens are scary stuff, yes, but deli meat will not kill you. As mentioned... everything in moderation.

          I don't eat a lot of deli meat personally, simply because buying deli turkey costs ten times as much as buying a turkey breast, and you're paying for water, salt, fillers, and often, the most appetizing thing on any ingredient list: "mechanically separated meat." Mmm.

          I'll cook my own sandwich meat, thanks. :D

          8 Replies
          1. re: Whats_For_Dinner
            goodhealthgourmet Feb 28, 2010 09:06 PM

            "you're paying for water, salt, fillers, and often, the most appetizing thing on any ingredient list: "mechanically separated meat.""
            i think it's safe to assume that this is the type of deli meat the OP was talking/inquiring about...not the high quality fresh-carved meats often sold at deli and prepared food counters in delis and high-end markets.

            the concern with sodium nitrite is that when it reacts with stomach acid, it produce nitrosamines, which have been shown to cause cancer *in animals* when consumed in large quantities. but the nitrite content in deli meat isn't extremely high, so moderate consumption by humans has been deemed safe. of course the key there is *moderate* consumption which, as we all know, isn't always the case in this country.

            and as far as nitrates are concerned, while they may not be carcinogenic, i'd still rather not consume an ingredient that's also used in everything from rocket fuel & fireworks to fertilizer.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
              EWSflash Mar 5, 2010 04:59 AM

              ghg, you could also be talking about water, you know...

              1. re: EWSflash
                goodhealthgourmet Mar 5, 2010 08:24 AM

                and oxygen...and nitrogen...yeah, i know. but that's stretching it just to argue for argument's sake, don't you think?

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                  Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 05:21 AM

                  just remember, smoking causes carcinogens too... I figure those are probably worse.
                  Do you think celery is carcinogenic?

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                snowman51 Feb 27, 2011 06:17 PM

                "the concern with sodium nitrite is that when it reacts with stomach acid, it produce nitrosamines"

                I beleive that this is incorrect, nitrosamines are formed when nitrites are heated to high temperature, eg frying bacon. Nitrites are natural and in most veggies in great abundance, 100's to 1000's of times more than any processed meat can have by law. Don't even think of eating celery if you worry about nitrites.

                1. re: snowman51
                  goodhealthgourmet Feb 27, 2011 07:11 PM


                  "As indicated in the table, nitrosamines can form in the gastric juice of the human stomach. This is commonly referred to as endogenous nitrosation. Bacteria in the mouth chemically reduce nitrate, which is prevalent in many vegetables, to nitrite, which in turn can form nitrosating agents. Many foods contain amines that can react with nitrosating agents in the acidic stomach to form nitrosamines."

                  1. re: snowman51
                    mcf Mar 10, 2011 03:34 PM

                    It's not the heat; if it were, microwaving wouldn't prevent nitrosamine formation.

                2. re: Whats_For_Dinner
                  02putt Mar 10, 2011 10:21 PM

                  I agree any leftovers, steak, roast beef, pork, chicken etc. are put in the fridge overnight and then sliced super thin and then put in Ziplocks (90g) and frozen for lunch meat. ( I find it easier to slice when it is cold) My daughter is sixteen and won't even touch deli meat. When she gets a sub its veggie because of the meat. She says it tastes gross. And what is that stuff at the deli counter that has macaroni in it? The "experts" say 200g/week of deli meat is okay. I may not have all the science but no thank you. Real meat taste better. And I won't tell you what we call bologne or hotdogs.

                3. g
                  gordeaux Mar 1, 2010 06:20 AM

                  I've read some reports that the nitratyes may not be good for forming fetuses.
                  My opinion would be to not eat lunchmeat if I was expecting.

                  Other than that, I don't eat whipped, pressed, and sliced meat like products all that often simplyu because they are "unhealthy," I don't eat them because they are disgusting, and I have no idea what they are made out of. IMO, turkey is not open to interpretation. I have never, ever seen a turkey with a rectangular breast. I have never, ever carved a thanksgiving turkey, and had the meat have a consistency of gelatin. If i want a turkey sandwich, then I'd like it made with turkey, not something that came out of a mold. If subway used real meat, I'd eat there five days a week, easily

                  And don't get me started on bologna. - lol. Once in a while tho, I'll get a craving for some really gros lunchmeat. Once a year, I'll see bologna on sale, and but a1/4 pound of it. Then I'm good for another year or two.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: gordeaux
                    Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 05:22 AM

                    or celery. *snort* "i've heard" is the cowards way out.

                    1. re: Chowrin
                      EWSflash Mar 10, 2011 05:37 PM

                      Clearly you haven't had mayo and pepper-covered slice of olive loaf rolled up and nestled into a nice celery stalk.

                      Once a year, of course.

                    2. re: gordeaux
                      02putt Mar 10, 2011 10:24 PM

                      We are like that about "Chinese Food" Once a year, then feel really sick and then remember why we only eat it once/year...until the next year lol

                    3. Karl S Mar 1, 2010 06:40 AM

                      It all depends on the deli meat. Sausage, broadly speaking, is a millennia-old use of odd cuts and curing materials - to avoid wasting bits of a slaughtered animal. And that's a good thing; I always find it funny when people think that something that is made from odd bits is inherently inferior to, let's say, an integral cut from the breast or the loin. Only a very modern person would be tempted to think that way; it's a perspective that arises from a culture of abundance and waste.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Karl S
                        The Professor Mar 1, 2010 04:19 PM

                        Karl S, you hit the nail on the head and I agree 100%. Our American culture (or more accurately the lack thereof) is one that has been spoiled by abundance, and as a result turn their noses up that things (delicious things) that other people and cultures have enjoyed and nourished themselves on for hundreds, even thousands of years. People who have to know _every_ single component of what they're eating really do tend to irritate me.

                        I am SO thankful that I live in an area (in NJ) that has a different abundance: one of wide ethnic diversity, and one that allows me to constantly taste and sample "mystery bits" of food.
                        I always try first, and ask questions later.
                        As to the "healthy/not healthy" question...again, in moderation practically everything is healthy.

                        1. re: The Professor
                          LauraGrace Mar 2, 2010 01:55 PM

                          "People who have to know _every_ single component of what they're eating really do tend to irritate me."

                          I remember reading in a teacher's companion to the Little House books some period (1800s) advice for dealing with the general store. Women were advised to keep a sharp eye out for flour "stretched" with plaster or sawdust, dyed pebbles in the coffee, and vinegar made with diluted sulfuric acid -- and that to buy from people they trusted was the best insurance against going home with inferior products. That was long before the Pure Food and Drug Act, of course. Now, the "general store owner" (the FDA) kindly tells us that all sorts of additives and adulterants are "fine in moderation" but neglects to tell us that some chemicals don't even have to be listed on ingredient labels because they're considered "manufacturing aids," not ingredients. I think if Ma Ingalls came into one of our modern grocery stores, she'd be just as wary and just as vigilant as some of us are that someone behind the counter (maybe way, WAY behind the counter) not have a chance to put something she didn't bargain for in her family's food.

                          My point is not that we should act like brats at the table and demand the ingredients list before a crumb passes our lips, but that we should be informed consumers, like our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were by necessity.

                          1. re: LauraGrace
                            tarteaucitron Mar 4, 2010 09:42 AM

                            LG and Professor,

                            Thanks for giving a perspective that I never had a chance to know about. I have huge cravings for things like Mortadella, street meat and processed veal sausages once in a while, but am also guilty of reading every label and background-checking all my food sources these days. I wish I could be more adventurous and be able to heartily enjoy all the mystery meats that the world has to offer, but in this day and age with all the news I read about, it is difficult not to be too cautious..

                            In this day and age where information is literally at our fingertips, it is almost a sin not to be informed consumers.

                            1. re: LauraGrace
                              almansa Mar 4, 2010 05:06 PM

                              As an interesting, perhaps, aside: the Ingalls' house is now a ranch raising "natural" Piedmontese beef.

                              1. re: almansa
                                just_M Mar 4, 2010 06:21 PM

                                Which one? Love the Ingalls.

                                1. re: just_M
                                  almansa Jun 23, 2010 11:13 AM

                                  Sorry I'm so late to respond, but I had forgotten its name. It's Tallgrass Beef. Apparently they've branched out and contract out to a number of ranches. And it's not Piedmontese anymore - perhaps it wasn't before, but that's how I remembered it. They sent me a sample; I enjoyed it.


                              2. re: LauraGrace
                                Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 05:24 AM

                                so you don't use white sugar because of bone shards?

                                1. re: Chowrin
                                  LauraGrace Jan 19, 2011 09:07 AM

                                  It's "bone char", and no I don't -- I buy vegan sugar or unrefined sugar. Thanks for asking.

                                2. re: LauraGrace
                                  02putt May 8, 2011 06:38 PM

                                  Generally I agree but there are some people that are required to watch their dietary intake due to medical reasons.

                                3. re: The Professor
                                  EWSflash Mar 10, 2011 05:50 PM

                                  Thank you for that first paragraph. I like the second one, too.

                              3. mcf Mar 1, 2010 06:48 AM

                                It depends on what's in it and how it's made. While cured deli meats, or those with added chemical "broths" and modified food starches may have less than completely healthy characteristics, uncured, unprocessed (save for cooking) deli meats are available without nitrites, starches, preservatives and added chemical broths. Those are what I buy, and they're as high quality a food as any other animal protein.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: mcf
                                  jdinsf Mar 2, 2010 03:36 PM

                                  Have to agree with mcf here. If you purchase fresh deli meats they're excellent sources of protein and can be a high-energy, low fat snack for your family.

                                  1. re: mcf
                                    danna Mar 31, 2011 06:19 AM

                                    We eat a lot of Applegate Farms, no-nitrite ham and a few other similar deli meats from Whole Foods. It's fairly low fat. We are both endurance athletes and so don't worry about salt. Still...

                                    I hope the stuff is healthy, because my husband eats a LOT of it. I tend to worry about eating anything beyond moderation, even though it's apparently healthy.

                                    1. re: danna
                                      MinkeyMonkey May 8, 2011 03:49 PM

                                      Same here. We eat a lot of Applegate's products and just do so in moderation. I can't really eat more than a moderate amount of deli meat no matter how nitrite-free, low-sodium it is as it is still too high in sodium for me to eat more than three slices at a time.

                                      I don't really see a reason to buy the kind with nitrites when they make deli meat without it. Except, some of the old-style (contains nitrites) meats are so very reasonably priced that it is a cheap way to feed kids and adults. If you can't afford nitrite-free deli meat, I guess there isn't much of a choice for inexpensive lunches. Although, beans are cheap, protein-rich and full of fiber!!

                                  2. Paulustrious Mar 3, 2010 04:47 AM

                                    I cure/ferment my own meat and vegetables so I use 'pink salt' - although here in Canada I have only seen in in its white undyed form. One quirk I have is that I label the bag "Poison" to stop others from accidentally using it in the pasta water.

                                    Here is one person's spin on nitrates. http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/seas... . It contains a statement that I believe to be true:

                                    "... the National Academy of Sciences, the American Cancer Society and the National Research Council all agree that there's no cancer risk from consuming sodium nitrite."

                                    I also make my own stock and enjoy my mechanically scavenged facemeat, knuckly bits and assorted unmentionables pressed into gelatin. Here in East Toronto the delis cater to many European cultures that grew up with tip-to-tail animal use and a tradition of preservation without refrigeration. Personally, I find sliced compressed turkey breast relatively tasteless.

                                    In terms of the OP's original question - why is deli meat unhealthy - I think it is quantity rather than quality that is the problem. In my old country a ham sandwich had a single slice of ham. I was absolutely astonished when I saw my first American ham sandwich that had over an inch of sliced meat, was accompanied by fries and could only be eaten with a knife and fork and

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Paulustrious
                                      02putt Mar 20, 2011 10:32 PM

                                      I saw pink salt at Metro the other day and immediately thought of this post.

                                      1. re: 02putt
                                        EWSflash May 7, 2011 06:43 PM

                                        Was it the salt with the saltpeter or Himalayan pink salt (mined from under the Himalayas and that's its color, no additives)? Totally different products

                                    2. m
                                      mojoeater Mar 3, 2010 05:17 AM

                                      According to my doctor, the dangers within deli meat, hams and hot dogs (even the high-quality, made-on-premises kind) is the sodium. Often one sandwich at a deli has more than your recommended RDA. This can be countered somewhat by drinking lots of water, but deli meat is not something to be had every day.

                                      16 Replies
                                      1. re: mojoeater
                                        Karl S Mar 3, 2010 06:16 AM

                                        Sodium is a problem if one has sodium-sensitive hypertension (a minority of people with hypertension are actually of the sodium-sensitive sort, but doctors rather lazily treat all people with hypertension as if they were sodium-sensitive) or edemas or some other specific ailment. RDAs vary (significantly) from country to country; there is no magically objective number.

                                        1. re: Karl S
                                          ipsedixit Mar 3, 2010 07:31 PM

                                          My doctor has advised me that I need to increase my sodium intake.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            EWSflash Mar 10, 2011 05:53 PM

                                            I can help you with that...

                                          2. re: Karl S
                                            mojoeater Mar 4, 2010 12:24 PM

                                            I'm not hypertensive, so he wasn't basing his recommendations on that. All I asked my doctor is what constituted a healthy diet for a woman my age. There is such as thing as too much sodium and a daily diet of lunch meats and other salty foods is capable of hitting that limit.

                                            1. re: mojoeater
                                              mcf Mar 4, 2010 05:09 PM

                                              Sure, there's an individual limit, but there's no one limit that applies to all folks. Careful scientists think it's more important to focus on heating the types of foods that are rich in magnesium and potassium instead of eating the usual crud with reduced salt content.

                                              1. re: mcf
                                                Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 05:27 AM

                                                no raw bananna? why?

                                                1. re: Chowrin
                                                  4Snisl Jan 19, 2011 09:28 AM

                                                  Sorry if I'm misunderstanding, Chowrin....but I think you're asking whether high-potassium foods (like bananas) are NOT OK for people with high blood pressure concerns?

                                                  If that's what you're asking.....mcf is pointing out that there is research indicating that eating a diet rich in potassium and/or magnesium is associated with decent blood pressure- which lines up with eating MORE potassium-rich foods, not less.

                                                  Whether it's through direct action in sodium-potassium exchange (or some other direct mechanism) vs. some association with this kind of diet (e.g. people who eat diets rich in potassium are also people who exercise a lot.....and the exercise reduces hypertension) is still being researched, as far as I know.

                                                  Bottom line- I agree with mcf. Resorting to reduced-salt processed foods often makes you realize that most of flavor in these products comes from salt, and very little else (not always....but OFTEN).

                                                  Deli meat totally falls into this category for me. Reduced sodium deli meats usually don't taste very good to me. I'd rather make sandwiches from my own leftover roasts that are high quality to start, seasoned with reasonable amounts of salt....and copious amounts pepper, herbs, garlic, and whatever else fits my fancy. Others' mileage may vary, as there are likely many varieties of low-sodium, high quality deli meats that aren't in my markets (or my price range).

                                                  1. re: Chowrin
                                                    operagirl Jan 27, 2011 08:30 PM

                                                    eating, not heating.

                                                  2. re: mcf
                                                    The Chowhound Team May 9, 2011 10:53 AM

                                                    Some of the recent replies to this old post are getting into the realm of medical advice, and that's an area we try to stay away from, so we've removed a string of posts from here.

                                                  3. re: mojoeater
                                                    EWSflash May 7, 2011 06:51 PM

                                                    mojo- I've worked in a hospital for forty years (ouch) and one of many things I've learned is that doctors, even cardiologists, aren't taught nutrition to any advanced level, and sadly, many of them are close to ignorant about what constitutes nutrition. If you can educate yourself from good, reliable sources (as opposed to a Google search) yo'll soon be much, much better off than you were.
                                                    But you're right about the daily lunch meat lunches- too much is too much.

                                                  4. re: Karl S
                                                    Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 05:26 AM

                                                    what's the highest, Karl? Calcium also varies a LOT! Americans are advised to consume 4x the rec amnt, because they get their from milk,and other low absorption products.

                                                    1. re: Karl S
                                                      MinkeyMonkey May 8, 2011 03:57 PM

                                                      Or if they suffer from Meniere's like me. And, as a person with a highly restrictive low-sodium diet, I have low blood pressure, low electrolytes and zero hypertension. Being a person who exercises a lot and who sweats, I have to limit my sodium even more so I can measure out my electrolyte solution to keep healthy. It is all so confusing sometimes!

                                                      You are right though, I know several people who actually take a small amount of table salt per day as their doctor has recommended. But, still, so many people eat way more salt than they realize. It is in everything and it drives me crazy trying to count it all up!

                                                      No, there is no magic number. Even my father with high blood pressure and other ailments is allowed much more salt than I would have ever guessed.

                                                      1. re: MinkeyMonkey
                                                        02putt May 8, 2011 06:24 PM

                                                        I have become very creative in substituting ingredients for salt laden ones. I also left an email for a major grocery chain suggesting they are missing a huge niche market and could benefit from catering to low sodium products. Either it was shear coincidence or they actually listened to me. Some of my favorite items they carry are no sodium chicken, beef, and, vegetable broth (so I don't have to make my own). No salt canned corn, red kidney and black beans, no salt canned tomatoes, no salt ketchup. It really saves me time making and canning my own. However I still make can corn and tomato salsa blueberry spread, tomatoes and tomato sauce. I am yet to find or make no salt pickles. The all taste like they're missing something. I make low salt pickles that are really tasty but they are a guilty indulgence. Ditto for low salt chips or nachos. I found a lower salt Portuguese cheese but again in moderation. I find grating cheese seems like more. I also purchased a cheese and brown sauce, Coney Island mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and, soy sauce as well. I use no salt when cooking or making rubs or I add it when necessary. I use it sparingly as it is quite strong tasting. I have found some great cookbooks, The Heart and Stroke and Foundation and a book called The Low Salt Favorites. No only do I use the recipes it is a great basis to start and alter recipes to specific taste. The one thing I can not find or make is low sodium bread and baked goods. It does not rise, is dense, and, heavy. I even purchased special baking powder, baking soda, and No Salt with no success. They recommend doubling the amount of baking powder, and use wheat gluten, but this still doesn't work. No salt is an acquired taste but I use it for flavoring when cooking and you can get use to it. I also make all my own salad dressings. Like I said you can get pretty creative when substituting ingredients. I am also required to reduce my fluid intake. Fresh fruit works to quench the thirst. Yogurt and sour cream are not considered liquids. My dietician said that anything that does not melt at room temperature is not a liquid.This comes in handy for sauces, dips, and, smoothies. Eating out is a whole other issue. In a nutshell (not salted of course) it can be done but is a royal pain.

                                                        1. re: 02putt
                                                          MinkeyMonkey May 9, 2011 05:37 AM

                                                          Lucky with the grocery store!! I have a hard time finding the particular no salt added corn chips I like and the store they were at dropped them. I've written, spoken with and practically pleaded but they didn't sell fast enough and that is the end of that. I even said, "I'll have no other choice but to go to WF for them" and they didn't care. Fine, I go to a different store now.
                                                          The pickles are difficult! They have no sugar but they don't have no salt. I guess that is just part of the pickling process.
                                                          I will have to try that mustard! I get the WF 365 brand as it is cheap and lower than the others but they count the sodium by the tsp and use several tbsp at a time! I'd love to try a no-salt one that I can use to my hearts content.
                                                          We've got just about everything else figured out but our bread is heavy and dense too.
                                                          Have you found a no-salt sliced deli meat? I'd love to be able to nibble on more than a couple or few slices!!

                                                          And, my biggest question, no-salt worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, really?? I've tried the low-sodium soy and was saddened by how high in sodium it was. Way too high for me. We have a basic plan for making our own substitute but it isn't the exact same taste.

                                                          Thanks for sharing!

                                                          1. re: MinkeyMonkey
                                                            02putt May 9, 2011 07:19 AM

                                                            Try healthyheartmarket.com Some of the products are a hit and miss but they have the Coney Island Mustard, Non salt worcestershire. The also carry boxes of granulated chicken and beef bouillon which is great as they are portion out \i think they also have no salt nacho chips. I have ordered from them several times and had no problem. I tend to buy in bulk from them as shipping and duty is an added cost. I am in Canada so the grocery store is Fortinos. They carry Blue Line products and are coming up with new ones everyday. Imagine, low salt falafels!

                                                    2. re: mojoeater
                                                      Up With Olives Mar 3, 2010 08:39 AM

                                                      Yup, I blow up like a balloon and get really thirsty if I eat cheap cold cuts.

                                                    3. c
                                                      cheesehead in recovery Mar 3, 2010 06:23 AM

                                                      Thanks for the input everyone.... I was really thinking of the low-salt turkey breast (which is what I've been buying lately) ... not so much balogna or sausage or more rare things.... But buying beef balogna has definately crossed my mind.... definately in moderation.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: cheesehead in recovery
                                                        Karl S Mar 3, 2010 06:27 AM

                                                        Try Italian mortadella, the real thing.

                                                        1. re: cheesehead in recovery
                                                          goodhealthgourmet Mar 3, 2010 08:16 PM

                                                          which one have you been buying? i'm a fan of Diestel. it's high-quality, pure turkey, and they have a no salt added turkey breast in their line of deli cuts...Whole Foods carries their products. otherwise, the Plainville Farms No Salt Added turkey is a good product as well. i know they have it at Wegmans & Kings supermarkets.

                                                          when it comes to finding minimally processed options, turkey seems to be a little easier than some of the other deli meats.

                                                        2. j
                                                          joonjoon Mar 4, 2010 10:04 AM

                                                          There's absolutely nothing unhealthy with things like store cooked roast beef or turkey breast.

                                                          1. pikawicca Mar 4, 2010 06:02 PM

                                                            A lot of deli meat, because of the way it's processed, is susceptible to contamination with Listeria. For this reason, pregnant women are advised to steer clear of the stuff. (This warning does not apply to real meat, i.e., roast beef, chicken, turkey, that is the real deal, not hyper-processed stuff.)

                                                            1. monavano Jan 19, 2011 05:38 AM

                                                              Just to add here- I have been eating deli meat and cheese in moderation, having decided not to exclude it from my diet because I adore a sandwich for lunch. Nothing else keeps me satisfied for hours!
                                                              That said, I wanted to add that with regards to sodium content, I also take into account how much sodium is in the bread (store-bought). I recently became aware of how much of it is in store-bought bread, up to 400 mg per slice, and now look very, very carefully at the labels. I was particularly disheartened to note that overall, darker breads have more sodium, which cramps my rye and pumpernickel habit.
                                                              Just one sandwich with deli meat and cheese and condiment (s) could account for about half of the recommended daily allowance of sodium.
                                                              In addition to closely scrutinizing bread labels, I've been making my own loaves and just purchased a Pullman loaf pan to make sandwich bread (with emphasis on whole grains).
                                                              $.02 ;-)

                                                              14 Replies
                                                              1. re: monavano
                                                                Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 05:56 AM

                                                                yeesh! and I thought I made salty breads! 1 tsp for a 1.5 lb. loaf. just one!

                                                                1. re: monavano
                                                                  paulj Jan 19, 2011 08:32 AM

                                                                  Have you ever made or tasted unsalted bread? It tastes bland without it. A common baker's ratio is 2% salt per weight of flour. I'm not sure how that translates to sodium content on a nutrition label. The label on a European style loaf of bread (e.g. French or Italian) might be typical.

                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                    monavano Jan 19, 2011 11:47 AM

                                                                    I have eaten Tuscan bread and it's ok. My homemade breads have salt added, and my estimate is that I'm on the lower end when compared to store-bought bread- especially ryes.

                                                                    1. re: monavano
                                                                      paulj Jan 19, 2011 12:28 PM

                                                                      Do those rye breads actually taste saltier? Or maybe whole grain breads need more salt to balance the stronger flavors. And according to this King Arthur table
                                                                      whole wheat flour has more sodium than white flour. And molasses (if used as flavoring or coloring agent) has more sodium than white sugar.

                                                                      When comparing the sodium levels of bread, note the serving size; i.e. grams per slice.

                                                                      I just compared 2 breads, Trader Joes 9 grain, and Trader Joes white Tuscan. The Tuscan is higher in sodium, nearly 2x.

                                                                      If the doctor has told you to watch the sodium intake, then paying attention to the levels in all store bought products is a good idea. For the rest of us, sodium levels in bread shouldn't be much of a concern.

                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                        monavano Jan 20, 2011 03:50 AM

                                                                        Seriously? 800 mg of sodium is something to give one pause...if only just to be able to put your rings on your fingers!
                                                                        Look...I just watch my intake. Everyone should. Processed food is chockablock full of salt. To infer that sodium is no biggie if you don't have hypertension is naive.
                                                                        btw, the highest sodium breads I've seen have been impossibly thin slices.

                                                                        1. re: monavano
                                                                          bigSQUISHY Jan 26, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                                          I just read this entire thread and I am really unsure which direction to go with my response. I see that there are many great questions and a good number of educated answers or parts of an answer to the original question.
                                                                          The largest % of the responses are directed to Sodium.
                                                                          Now I guess I could throw many more questions on top to help narrow down the possible answers such as:
                                                                          1.What standard or base do you use to decide what a daily intake should be?
                                                                          The American heart Association
                                                                          Or one of many others?
                                                                          2. For what :
                                                                          Cultural back ground
                                                                          Level of activity
                                                                          Type of activity
                                                                          It all gets very complicated so the answer which I see was stated several times above is that there is no universal answer. How about we go with an average DRI (Daily recommended intake) and I will use myself as an example.
                                                                          I am 35 years old as of today. Male, 260lbs (over weight), fair to good health, 5’ 11” tall.
                                                                          According to the FDA and AHA in order to maintain my current weight with my current level of activity and my current health I should consume approximately 2900 calories per day.
                                                                          Lets divide my daily calorie intake by a rough suggested number of meals of 5 per day. Equaling to about 580 calories per meal.
                                                                          The American Heart Association suggest that for every 1000 calories of food consumed, the sodium intake should be 1000 mg and should not exceed 3000mg. Pretty wide leeway but leaves room for calorie intake for my body and life style.
                                                                          The FDA recommends limiting you daily sodium intake to 2400mg.
                                                                          Both based on the 2000 calorie diet and both pretty close in their suggested allowances.

                                                                          So using this information let’s look at our sodium or salt.
                                                                          Approximately 1 teaspoon of salt is equivalent to about 2300mg.
                                                                          I eat Oroweat breads and Boar’s Head Meats so I will put up some nutritional data for our example. Since the dark whole grain rye breads were mentioned I will use the calories and sodium levels in Schuarzwulder Dark Jewish whole grain Rye.
                                                                          1 slice per serving with 70 Calories and 170mg of Sodium. To make my sandwich of course this would double.
                                                                          140 calories and 340mg of sodium. Defiantly counting only this sandwich I would be over the DRI by almost double in a calorie to sodium ratio.
                                                                          Now let’s look at Boar’s Head Bologna both Beef but one low sodium. Serving size 2oz. which is approximately 1 slice in-between 1/16th and 1/8th inch thick ish.
                                                                          Boar’s Head 28% lower sodium bologna has 150 Calories and 410mg of sodium.
                                                                          Boar’s Head traditional beef bologna has 150 calories and 520mg of sodium.
                                                                          Lets add up what we currently have.
                                                                          290 Cal and 750mg sodium with the 28% less bologna. Over double the DRI of Sodium.
                                                                          290 Cal and 860mg sodium with the traditional beef bologna. Almost triple the DRI Sodium.
                                                                          Here is what I would have left for daily calories and sodium for the day. 2610 Calories and 1650mg sodium under the AHA and 2150 under the FDA. Just using the above information and keeping within the DRI I would have to divide my total sodium intake for the 4 remaining meals to 537mg and 412mg each.
                                                                          This may be easy to do being that vegetables and fruit are suggested to be at least 2 of the remaining meals. Keep in mind that we did not add cheese or sandwich spread, mustard, tomatoes, lettuce or any other toppings. Just bread and meat. Pretty terrible sandwich in my opinion. So for me half a sandwich with condiments cheese etc… would be a reasonable meal for both calories and sodium intake.
                                                                          Now that statement about moderation would apply to everything we do and everything we eat.
                                                                          As far as America being the poster child for over indulgence I think that is just a way to take cheap shots at each other and or shrug our own personal responsibility for how things are. Every culture has something they crave, horde and covet. America is not the only country with overweight people even if it has high percentages every country has something that is out of whack and needs adjustment and education.
                                                                          I did not post any of this to sound like a know it all, I just figured that maybe some numbers and a scenario might help to make things a little easier to take into context and apply to their own particular situation. It is good for people to do some homework about how to run their lives what to do and what not to do as it applies to their own situation. Taking a look at what people complain about and what people swear to and swear off can really help people realize how each of these things effects their lives and how much of that effect has to do based on their own unique circumstances, not whose fault it is and who is guilty. If you don’t know the answers to these questions you are guilty of being ignorant and if you do know this information and still have a sodium (for example) problem then you are guilty of making your own wrong choices. But we are very fortunate to have forums like these to share, debate and discuss our thoughts and experiences .
                                                                          I do hope some of this made sense I only had a few minutes to type this up.
                                                                          Just my take and my input not intended to be a guide or an answer, just my interpretation of information I use to make my choices with deli meats , bread, sodium and the like.

                                                                          Have a great day!

                                                                          Very Respectfully,


                                                                          1. re: monavano
                                                                            mcf Jan 27, 2011 07:13 AM

                                                                            I eat more salt than I ever did, and I never bloat. After many years of ht, I have very low normal to below normal bp, too. I achieved this by cutting the foods that promote metabolic syndrome, starch and sugars. In doing so, one compensates with lots of high fiber and nutrient dense vegetables that contain a lot of the minerals that regulate bp.

                                                                            Bloat comes from excess sodium in ratio to other electrolytes, not just a certain amount of sodium, and mostly from carbs, because each stored glycogen molecule is attached to three water molecules. Not having enough sodium is at least as dangerous as having too much unbalanced sodium.

                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                              Patriette May 6, 2011 08:50 PM

                                                                              This is completely true. Same for me my nutritionist recommends I salt my food liberally (celtic sea salt). Also avoid all processed grains and sugar. The low fat diet is killing America and they blame salt which is responsible for optimal absorption of nutrients. I keep it simple meat and veggies limit fruit no dairy and only fruit sugar like honey and maple syrup. My allergies have vanished and my chronic dermatitis has ceased. Food is key along with standard process whole food supplements. Oh and I make my own raw chocolate :)

                                                                      2. re: paulj
                                                                        MinkeyMonkey May 8, 2011 04:05 PM

                                                                        My guy bakes it for me allll the time and it is very, very bland and almost without flavour!

                                                                        He has tried just about every possible mix of flour types to come up with a good blend that has flavour and adding millet flour, rye flour and buckwheat flour to mostly whole wheat flour and a touch of white flour makes a pretty good blend.

                                                                        Are you a baker? Is their something else we should be adding since we are leaving salt out? We find it difficult to get a good texture but just figured it was because we are at 8250 feet altitude.

                                                                        We only eat bread once a week now but I'd love to have a fluffier bread!

                                                                        Thanks! And, if you don't know an answer to my question, that's okie dokie.

                                                                        1. re: MinkeyMonkey
                                                                          paulj May 8, 2011 04:19 PM

                                                                          I've seen some Italian low salt bread recipes. Apparently they were developed at time when government monopolies kept salt prices too high.

                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                            MinkeyMonkey May 8, 2011 04:53 PM

                                                                            Thanks, I'll look some up!

                                                                            1. re: MinkeyMonkey
                                                                              paulj May 8, 2011 05:13 PM


                                                                            2. re: paulj
                                                                              02putt May 8, 2011 06:32 PM

                                                                              I too have tried everything I can think of with no success.I did find a lower salt German multigrain bread that is lower sodium but still contains salt.

                                                                        2. re: monavano
                                                                          EWSflash May 7, 2011 06:53 PM

                                                                          Holy crap- thank heavens for the FDA nutrition mandate on the label.

                                                                        3. s
                                                                          snowman51 Mar 10, 2011 07:51 PM

                                                                          Its all (almost all anyway) in your genes. Bad genes, your screwed, no matter what you eat. Good genes, eat anything you want and live to be 95.

                                                                          I am lucky enough to have family history for a continuous period of about 500 years. One line of my family all lives to about mid 90's and I know for a fact that the last couple of generations ate pickled pig knuckles for snacks 5 times a day (may be an exageration but not much). A more recent branch married into a family in 1880. That family also has a long geneology and everyone in it died about age 50 from colon cancer. The offspring in my family line started dying at age 50 something from colon cancer. They were Harvard grads and MDs so they knew what they were dying from. The brothers that did not marry into that family continued to live into their 90's and still do. They eat bacon, a lot of bacon and they used salt peter to cure it untill lately. Salt peter is no longer used as it is considered to unsafe.

                                                                          What does my familys experience prove? Actually nothing much, but it points to a strong correlation to genes and cancer. 6 straight generations of the same kind of cancer. 12 generations of no cancer on an unrelated branch.

                                                                          Thats more proof than many of the food nuts that don't eat anything that is not "natural" can provide. We are also learning that the dose is the poison. Even french fries don't appear to have enough bad stuff to kill us, but genes, we will soon know which of us are doomed from the start. Good genes, and moderation, the common traits of my long lived ancestors.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: snowman51
                                                                            02putt Mar 20, 2011 10:44 PM

                                                                            Just like the person that dies of lung cancer but has never smoked or the chain smoking 90 year old that is fit as a fiddle. But why temp fate with things you can control?

                                                                            1. re: 02putt
                                                                              snowman51 Mar 30, 2011 11:07 PM

                                                                              My opinion is that, if you have any gene that makes you susceptible to some disease, you will run across a trigger for it, no matter what you do. I had friends that knew they were susceptible to certain cancers. Their only choice was to be screened more often than the general population in hopes of detecting the cancer early. For example colon cancer can be detected using a colonoscopy and if done often, pre cancer plops, removed. Unfortunately some cancers are so aggressive that even an annual screening is not enough. In the case of colon cancer the general public needs screening once every 5 years. With a strong family history, every year. Screening more often is impractical.

                                                                              My personal observations are that we are not designed to live much past 35 years. Starting at age 28 we start to lose muscle strength, the rate dependent upon fitness. We start seeing people we know dying at age 35 of heart disease, age 40 of various ailments, at age 50 even more, and by age 60 the obit states natural causes. If you do make it to 60 your chances of living to 80 actually improve a bit.
                                                                              Put another way it is probably more beneficial to have an annual physical, taylored to your family history, than picking what kind of deli meats you eat. Moderation in diet is very important. Nitrates or Nitrites are so far down the list that they are insignificant.

                                                                              Remember these are my personal opinions.

                                                                            2. re: snowman51
                                                                              Patriette May 6, 2011 08:59 PM

                                                                              Just because you live to be a hundred doesn't mean you were healthy doing it. My 91 year old grandmother raised on pharmaceuticals and sugar drinks jack and coke every night... and has a serious illness every year. My bf's grandmother 94 and multiple strokes. Heart disease and cancer increased significantly after processed foods went onto the market following WWII. Genes are affected by foods. GMO foods alter your DNA

                                                                              1. re: Patriette
                                                                                crowmuncher Jul 23, 2011 10:19 PM

                                                                                I agree that it is all about quality of life. We're going to die-can't prevent that.

                                                                              2. re: snowman51
                                                                                paulj May 7, 2011 08:56 AM

                                                                                Sounds like the one line of your family has a genetic condition called Lynch syndrome. Genetic testing might be a good idea.

                                                                              3. g
                                                                                grant.cook Mar 31, 2011 11:14 AM

                                                                                When my wife was pregnant, she was told not to eat deli meat, mainly because of a risk of food poisoning if it wasn't fully cooked or had picked up some food poisoning-ish bacteria. Worth nothing, though, is that with pregnant women, they are super super conservative when it comes to food safety.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: grant.cook
                                                                                  paulj Mar 31, 2011 11:47 AM

                                                                                  The concern here is with listeria. Most deli meat is adequately cooked during production. But if it is contaminated (say during packaging), and eaten without further heating, susceptible people can be come ill.

                                                                                  A Q&A from a Canadian newspaper in response to a deli meat recall a couple of years ago.

                                                                                  It notes that there have been other listeria outbreaks, linked to cheese and to coleslaw. Any cold premade food that is eaten without further cooking is a potential source.

                                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                                    EWSflash May 7, 2011 07:12 PM

                                                                                    I'm surprised that it's listeria. I would have guessed staph or e.coli or one of the other common contaminants picked up from the slicing and handling process. That's why they have the amount of nitrites and sodium they do- preservatives and protectants, all with their own little health issues. A mixed blessing

                                                                                2. i
                                                                                  igorm May 7, 2011 12:41 PM

                                                                                  In my humble opinion, we tend to worry to much about the ingrediants in foods. Like someone said earlier, if you eat in moderation, deli foods are tasty and not harmful to the majority of us. Some of us may be alergic to some ingrediant or advised not to eat something by their doctor but this does not apply to everyone in the universe. Food is to be enjoyed not just as sustenance.

                                                                                  1. f
                                                                                    foodworthy May 7, 2011 06:31 PM

                                                                                    I read an article recently on NPR suggesting deli meats be heated to 165 before consuming because of the hazard of listeriosis.

                                                                                    Article: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/...

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: foodworthy
                                                                                      crackle May 9, 2011 10:06 AM

                                                                                      The CDC recommendations are for pregnant women and their fetuses, persons with weakened immune systems or serious illnesses, adults over age 50 but especially over age 65, infants/toddlers, and others in high-risk groups.

                                                                                      The CDC says "Healthy children and adults occasionally get infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill...healthy persons may consume contaminated foods without becoming ill."

                                                                                      Unreheated deli meats aren't the only thing on the "do not eat" list for the above higher-risk groups (Australia/New Zealand chose to warn against prepared raw fruits, vegetables, and salads, the US decided not to), guidelines for higher-risk groups are here including "do not eat" lists


                                                                                      Not everyone agrees with the CDC recommendations to older adults. http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/heal...

                                                                                    2. crowmuncher Jul 23, 2011 01:27 PM

                                                                                      so many reasons...but a good rule to follow is to not eat processed foods because they are all bad for you- not just deli meats. I know this isn't always possible and we don't want to be extreme, but we should control what goes into our bodies as much as possible. Just the sodium content is reason enough to stay away from deli meats- but they are delicious and we need to feed the soul sometime...

                                                                                      1. p
                                                                                        ptrichmondmike Jul 23, 2011 04:57 PM

                                                                                        I assume you are referring to nitrites. I have yet to read any studies demonstrating death through occasional consumption of deli meat. Like most everything else, it's not unhealthy if eaten in moderation. Only fanatics would claim otherwise, and they have nothing to contribute.

                                                                                        1. s
                                                                                          Squeaky_nesbitt Dec 18, 2012 10:38 AM

                                                                                          After reading all of the replies, I think most will agree that the best way to do deli meat is to do it yourself with real chicken, turkey, etc. At the same time, make sure that your products aren't hormone fed or caged. You can successfully freeze in separate and multiple packaging in your freezer for months on end. Just do it yourself and avoid deli meats and especially ready made meat sliced packaging <<<< that's a real culprit. I don't wait for Thanksgiving to cook a turkey. I cook probably 3 a year, break them down and end up with a couple of months worth of turkey per turkey. You'll save tons of money this way and it'll always be there when you want it.

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