Eat Healthier by Avoiding These Four Unhealthy Meats

Many Americans love eating meat, but overindulging in some types of meat could be hazardous to your health. Lean poultry and fish are usually the best choices for meat-eaters, because they’re lower in fat and calories – and less likely to raise cholesterol levels and clog arteries. There are also certain types of meat to steer clear off. Discover four types of meat your doctor, and particularly your cardiologist, wouldn’t approve of.

Country ham

Country ham certainly creates a pleasing odor as its cooking in the kitchen, but there’s little good to say about this salty meat from a health standpoint. Country hams are cured, soaked in a salty brine solution and then smoked for more flavor. The fat content of ham is usually high, in the range of 11 to 13 grams, with a little less than half being saturated fat, although there are leaner cuts of ham. But beware of the salt.

A single serving has almost 2,000 milligrams of sodium, which is about 80% of the maximum amount you should get in a day. Not to mention, the cancer-causing chemicals that form from curing and preserving the meat. The added salt makes it easier for these carcinogens to enter the cells of the intestines, which is why processed meats such as ham have been linked with intestinal cancers.


Another type of meat that should only grace the breakfast table as a splurge is bacon. Bacon is another high-fat meat that’s soaked in brine and smoked, despite its addictive taste. Not only that, but it’s preserved with nitrites that damage DNA and increase the risk of intestinal cancer. Bacon isn’t as high in sodium as country ham, it has about a third of the amount per serving, but it’s still a salty meat that’s generally high in fat. It’s not good for your intestines – or your heart.


You knew this one was coming. Sausage has the same disadvantages as its country cousin, bacon. It’s typically high in fat, preservatives, nitrites and sodium, but if you have to choose, go for the bacon. It’s lower in calories and fat than the typical sausage patty or link.

Lunch meats

Lunch meats are quick and convenient for brown-baggers, but they’re also processed and have added nitrites and salt. The good news? You can buy low-sodium, lower fat lunch meats like lean turkey, which isn’t as bad for you as the conglomeration of meats that go into bologna, corn beef and beerwurst. If you buy lunch meat, stick to those that are low in sodium and fat, and preferably ones that don’t contain nitrites.

The bottom line

Some natural food markets such as Whole Foods sell uncured bacon and sausage that doesn’t contain nitrites, hormones or antibiotics. These sausages come in a variety of flavors including chipotle, apple, Italian and more – and there are turkey and chicken options. These are a healthier choice than standard bacon and sausage – or look for one of the meat-free soy-based sausages and bacon instead, especially if you value your heart.

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Carole Derrick, Primary Grades Teacher