Many of us eat ready-made sandwiches sold in groceries because we do not have time to prepare food at home or because of their good flavor and delicious taste.
However, a growing body of research has linked the processed meats used in these sandwiches, such as hot dogs, to a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and dementia.
But the greatest danger, according to scientists, is the presence of a large amount of sodium in processed meats, including meat that is processed, smoked, or otherwise preserved, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Too much sodium
Meat is usually loaded with sodium during processing, smoking, and preservation. One study found that sodium levels in processed meats are about 400% higher than those in unprocessed meats.
Excess sodium increases blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Each daily serving of processed meat is associated with a 42% increased risk of heart disease and a 19% increased risk of diabetes, according to a review of research co-authored by Dr. Mozaffarian and published in the journal Circulation in 2010, with more recent research reporting similar findings.
The World Health Organization plans to issue new recommendations to reduce consumption of processed meat by 2025, says Francesco Branca, director of the organization’s department of nutrition and food safety.
In 2015, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer assessed the cancer risks posed by processed meat and classified the foods as “carcinogenic to humans”.
The agency also said that each 50-gram serving of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
In 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration, in cooperation with the US Department of Agriculture, issued voluntary targets for food manufacturers that will be in effect through the spring of 2024 to reduce the sodium content of processed and packaged foods, including processed meats.