Growing up, I loved eating cold hot dogs out of the fridge. It was a great snack. Sodium Nitrites are found in most processed meats. Picture yourself at the grocery store buying hot dogs. Now look at all the lunch meats and sausages all around the hot dogs . . . all of it has Sodium Nitrate. Sodium Nitrite is what is formed when you ingest sodium nitrates. Sodium Nitrite is a known carcinogen (causes cancer). You have to eat vitamin C to negate the nitrites. So you would have to have a slice of tomato on your sandwich. Sodium nitrite is what is formed as the sodium nitrite is oxidized (exposed to oxygen). Keep in mind as I talk about "meats" that I am referring to processed meat. NOT chicken, steak, pork chops, and those fresh meats. Examples of meats that have nitrites in them ARE bacon, lunch meat, sausage, hot dogs, and jerky.
Sodium nitrite is a food additive that prevents the growth of the bacteria that causes botulism. Potassium nitrate is used for the same purpose. It is good that our meats don't give us botulism, but nitrates are toxic in high amounts. They die the sodium nitrite bright pink so that it doesn't get mixed up as anything else since it is toxic in high amounts. This is why so much of the meats with nitrates in it are kinda pink (think hot dogs).
Some concerns come up when it comes to these additives. Back in 2006, a study was done that linked lung disease to eating cured meats. It found that people who ate cured meats regularly had a 71% higher chance of developing lung disease than those who never ate cured meats. Though not proven, nitrites are what people want to blame this on.
If you read my recent post on breakfast burritos, you remember me saying that processed meat consumption gave you a 67% higher rate of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. On a stage for stage basis, cancer of the pancreas is met with the shortest median survival time out of all cancer types, most often less than 1 year. Pancreatic cancer is not something you want to get!
What are some other alternatives to never eating another cold cut sandwich and summertime hot dog?
- They do have nitrate free meats. Hormel has nitrate free ham. See my Breakfast Burritos Post. They also have buffalo hot dogs that are made from grass-fed bison, so they are loaded with omega3's. You can get them at northstarbision.com. Applegate farms has organic nitrate free meat. You can buy this at Whole Foods. Boar's Head is a brand of lunch meats that you usually get at the deli counter at the grocery store. Their turkey and chicken products are nitrate free, but their ham is not. I love their turkey and chicken . .. sooo good!
- Just get out of the habit of eating these foods. Most are high in fat and salt.
- Vegetarian is always an option, but I am often left with a tasteless taste in my mouth when I have tried this option. Morningstar does make some tasty morning vegetarian sausage, and when I was pregnant with the twins, I couldn't get enough of their vegetarian corn dogs. You can find morning star products in the freezer section of your grocery store.
- For kids, try cheese sandwich without the meat. Have hamburgers instead of hot dogs when you do a BBQ.
- Nuts instead of jerky. Both are high in protein and help feel you up.
- Make bacon and sausage for breakfast a special treat. We always have sausage for Christmas morning, and when it is your birthday, you can pick what ever as well. (we are having doughnuts in August for my son's birthday breakfast).
To sum up, here are the top reasons not to feed your family lunch meats and hot dogs with nitrates.
- Because they contain sodium nitrites which converts into sodium nitrites, known carcinogens.
- Most lunch meat and hot dogs are mechanically separated meats. "Mechanically separated meats" means the meat was removed from the bones by machine. These meats can have a gritty quality due to small bone particles.
- Most lunch meats and hot dogs contain high levels of salt. This can cause high blood pressure.
- Hot dogs are very high in fat. You know this isn't good.