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Cured Meat: Health Benefits of Smoked and Cured Meat

  By posted Aug 8th 2012
Healthy Living

 

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Smoked meat is gaining popularity in India, with an increase in brands and varied options at your local cold storage. Not only is smoked meat great for last-minute snack preparations, but it also serves as a great option for singles living in houses with minimal kitchen facilities. But the question we ask is - how healthy is smoked and cured meat? How often can we consume cured meat?

Pallavi Srivastava, nutritionist with Evolve Medspa, says, "Smoking meat includes cooking used to add flavor to meat from the smoke of the plant material used to cook it, it adds the smoky flavors to the meat."

As for cured meat, she explains the method first, "Curing meat is a method of preserving it for an extended amount of time with the use of salt. Apart from the benefit of increased shelf life, curing the meat with lime and vinegar gives the food a rich and otherwise unattainable taste. Along with that it also tenderizes the meat and adds flavour. Make sure that you keep a space in the refrigerator so you can leave the meat undisturbed during this time."

But is smoked meat healthy? She narrows down the health effects of cured and smoke meat: 

  • "One should consume smoked foods in moderation. If consumed in moderation it is not likely to cause significant problems.
  • Some smoked meats contain a high percentage of fat. Saturated fat contributes to a higher risk of heart disease and increased weight gain. Fatty smoked meats such as sausages are generally not considered healthy.
  • Most of the smoked meat is brined or cured in salt which contains high amount of sodium. Smoked salmon is also high in sodium. Too much dietary sodium might lead to hypertension, heart attacks or kidney failure.
  • Smoked meats might increase the risk of other health problems. Frequently eating smoked meat leads to obesity in some people. This is particularly true if a person chooses fatty foods like sausage over leaner cuts of smoked meat.
  • Smoked salmon contains nutrients like protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but it may also contain bacteria that can increase your risk to potentially fatal infections.
  • Pregnant women should avoid smoked meats in case they are contaminated with dangerous bacteria or parasites.
  • Caution should be taken when cold-smoking fish because some fish contain parasites that won't be destroyed unless exposed to high temperatures.”


Bottom-line about smoked meat and cured meat: If you rely on store-bought smoked meat that you cannot control in terms of fat, sodium and other healthy-unhealthy content, then consume smoked meat in moderation.

Here’s what Pallavi Srivastava says, "Meat contains protein, which is a vital part of your diet. Protein helps muscles and bones stay strong and healthy. It plays a role in everything from building blood cells to healing wounds."

She goes into detail, "Smoking cooks, adds flavour to the meat, but it also acts as a preservative. Meats are also rich in minerals like iron. Lean meats like buffalo, fish and chicken breast contain less fat than pork and beef. Some fishes are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that promotes nervous system and cardiovascular health. As in case of any food, even smoked meats are beneficial when consumed in moderation."

*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images

 

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