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Sodium in Foods–Part 2–Cold Cuts and Processed Meats

Posted Feb 15 2012 11:00am

As a society, we love our meat. Whether it’s bacon for breakfast, a ham sandwich for lunch or a steak for dinner, it’s part of our culture. Of course, it’s not all bad. Animal-based proteins are complete, with all of the essential amino acids. A person could not exist without protein.

The problem lies with the choices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified cured meats and cold cuts as the second leading source of sodium in the American diet. Salt is synonymous with bacon and sausages, after all. It’s part necessity to keep those nasty microbes in check, but it also contributes to high blood pressure. To put it in perspective, consider how much sodium is in common foods.

  • One slice of bacon, 192 mg
  • One link of Italian sausage, 809 mg
  • One oz. serving of honey-cured ham, 495 mg

In terms of sodium content, these are heavy hitters. There’s another risk associated with processed in meats in the form of sodium that it may contain. Most any bacon you buy contains sodium nitrite. A study by  identified processed meats with a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Again, it comes down to making good choices. There will be high levels of sodium in any processed meat product. That is a given. You can however, choose products without sodium nitrite. You can do some comparison shopping regarding sodium levels. Though still high in sodium, the Aidell brand of sausage and many Niman Ranch products do not contain sodium nitrite.

The other lesson concerns moderation. There’s no doubt that processed meats like sausage, Soppressata and chorzio are yummy. It’s just a matter of making them a treat, rather than a lifestyle.

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