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Cured vs uncured meat: Is this a don’t do it or die decision?

cured vs uncured meat

Is banning cured vs uncured meat from your diet a matter of life and death? Or more livelihood instead of health struggles?

Bacon makes everything better. So why the bad rep?

What is cured vs uncured meat?

Have you been put on high alert to review product labels carefully for cured vs uncured meat?

We cure meat to add flavor, de-funk it and potentially add shelf life (aka preserve it). Truth is, usually even “uncured” meat is cured. By USDA standards, the label “uncured” simply means that the supplier did not use chemicals, but only natural sources for the curing process.

In fact, curing meat blocks the growth of a bacteria responsible for botulinum toxin, the most poisonous chemical compound known, according to this article on paleoleap.com.

So, curing is a good thing, right?

Let’s compare cured vs uncured meats.

Cured meats:

  • typically contain salt and nitrates.
  • will be pinker in color due to the preservatives.
  • increase your risk for cancer due to the chemicals used.

Uncured meats:

  • cook and taste similar to cured meats.
  • are cured without added nitrites.
  • have a shorter shelf life.

Meat suppliers can cure meat (whether labeled “cured” or “uncured”) by:

  • smoking it
  • packing it with salt
  • a wet-cure method, in which water is injected under the skin with tiny needles, and then the meat is bounced around in a tumbler to distribute the water evenly throughout (paleoleap.com).
  • a dry-cure method (a better option).

Does cured vs uncured meat involve higher health risks?

First, when reading labels, treat nitrates and nitrites the same – not good – because your body convert nitrates into nitrites. Your stomach will then convert nitrites into nitrosamines, a carcinogen, or substance capable of causing cancer.

Meats labeled “uncured” are typically cured using natural sources, such as celery powder and sea salt, so they at least do not contain carcinogenic chemicals.

But celery powder is a still a nitrite.

In fact, several vegetables contain nitrites. But the vitamin C in those vegetables prevents the conversion of the nitrites into nitrosamines.

So if shopping cured vs uncured meats, opt for the uncured versions. At least you know it was not cured using chemicals.

Also look for “no nitrites or nitrates added” on the label. Read the ingredients and choose products with fewer ingredients, such as the meat (preferably grass-fed, organic), celery powder and sea salt.

Even better, buy your meats from a local butcher who cures the meats most organically. Ask for all the details and understand what you’re getting. Or venture in to curing your own meats.

What else do you need to know about processed meats?

Zooming back from the cured vs uncured meat category, we see a broader category of “processed” meats, which includes meats that are smoked, cured, salted (or cured naturally) and fermented. This includes bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs and some sausages and hamburgers if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives (mercola.com).

According to Dr. Josh Axe, all processed meats are bad.

And Dr. Axe considers red meat a notch less evil than processed meats. If you eat red meat, he recommends using high quality, grass-fed meat and cooking it for just a short time to maximize the amount of protein and iron you can get from it. This meat cooked more rare also provides a cancer fighting conjugated linoleic acid.

However, many restaurants won’t cook meat rare because the (lower quality) meat they use would not be safe to eat that way!

So, eat more chicken, indeed. Or turkey and wild-caught fish. And experiment with more of the healthy, life-changing foods.

If and when you do eat meat, eat and prepare it at home so you know what you’re getting. Eat organic, grass-fed versions in moderation. If you buy it from a supermarket, opt for the meat labeled “uncured”. And most importantly, if your body disagrees with it, don’t eat it at all or take a break to find out if you can reintroduce it later.

 

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.