Counter Intelligence at the Deli Counter

Cold cuts from the delis have been getting a bad rap – too salty, too full of nitrates, and too fatty, which increase the risks for heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes as well as cancer. Whether you’re shopping a Publix Deli or Kroger Deli, these tips can help you.

But when you use the following tips on deli counter intelligence, you are making healthier choices.

Go for the Whole Cuts

In the deli industry, whole cuts refer to sliced whole roasted turkey, pot roast, and ham, all of which are the better options in comparison with processed meats.

But processed meats are the more commonly served meats for sandwiches and subs since these are more affordable than whole cuts, not to mention that these look prettier (i.e., uniform sizes) on a bun.

What makes processed meats unhealthier than whole meats? The answer lies in the presence of preservatives, mostly salt, and fillers ranging from corn syrup to meat by-products added to ground meat that makes up processed meat.

Ask for whole meats instead and you will not only get the healthier version but also enjoy the yummier flavors.

Get It into the Microwave

While the recall of deli meat may have instilled fear into your heart about deli meats in general and Listeria (food-borne bacteria) in particular, don’t be.

While Listeria is not uncommon, it is not as deadly as the media portrays it to be – unless, of course, you already have a weakened or compromised immune system or you are pregnant, then you should steer clear.

But if you are still iffy about your order of deli meats, you can always use your microwave to kill the pathogens in them. Microwave the deli meats until these are steaming and then put them in the refrigerator; the temperature should be approximately 165°F.

Load Your Sandwich with Greens -
Load Your Sandwich with Greens

According to a study published in Circulation, a medical journal, a daily dose of 50 grams of processed red meats increases the risks of heart disease by 42% and of diabetes by 19%; 50 grams is equal to 2 slices of bologna or salami.

This is because processed red meats including smoked turkey contain nitrates, which are chemicals added for flavor and color and which increase health risks.

But that’s not the worst part either. The high sodium (salt) and nitrates content also increase the risks for the Big C – these two substances combine with the digestives juices in the stomach, turn into carcinogenic compounds, and increase the risks for several types of cancer.

Fortunately, you can lessen your risks in two ways. First, lessen your processed red meats intake, such as just 2-3 times a week instead of your daily dose and lessen the amount for each intake (e.g., just a single slice).

Second, load your processed meat-based sandwich with plenty of vegetables including lettuce, alfalfa, spinach, and tomatoes, which are high in nutrients including antioxidants.

Indeed, there’s no reason to skip on the delicious flavors of deli meats. The trick is in making intelligent choices in your meals and snacks from choosing whole cuts to adding more vegetables.