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Updated by Carissa Eckle on Nov 27, 2019
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What kinds of processed meats are the worst for your health?

A list of processed meats that contain products with the most carcinogenic factors. Which is the worst? From bacon to hotdogs, some of America's most loved meat products are also the deadliest.

1

Sausages (including hot dogs)

Sausages (including hot dogs)

Sausages are high up on the list because they often contain nitrite which can lead to N-nitrosamine formation, grilling can increase PAH and HCA content, their sodium content is significantly high, and in a study, they were found to have the highest concentrations of PCBs.

2

Bacon

Bacon

Bacon, though delicious, is one of the worst forms of processed meat because, like sausages, contains nitrates/nitrites, the act of frying can increase HCA formation, and the sodium content is relatively high.

3

Burgers

Burgers

It is debated on whether hamburgers are considered processed meats, but they still do contain several forms of carcinogens and unless you are making it yourself, it can be difficult to control factors such as char level, which contributes to the amount of PAH and HCAs. Burgers also contain high levels of haem iron which can be harmful without the buffers of foods high in antioxidants or fiber.

4

Salami

Salami

Salami contains nitrites but lacks the additons of antioxidants that can prevent formation of N-nitrosamines, so that is why they are on the list, however, they are not always smoked, so there is reduced formation of HCA. Salami can also be high in sodium and was found to have the highest concentration of PCBs, along with hotdogs.

5

Lunch Meat

Lunch Meat

The category of processed lunch meat can include ham, bologna, and chicken and turkey breast deli meat. They are on the list because they include nitrite through the curing process, as well as high levels of sodium. Ham and other lunch meat can also be smoked, which incites formation of PAHs.