Smoking Your Meat – Is it Harmful for Your Health?
Smoking meat keeps it tender and flavourful. Smoked meat is a favourite and a staple in many get-togethers. It is safe to eat smoked meats but like most things, it should be consumed in moderation. Frequent consumption of smoked meat poses health risks, although some believe that it is the smoking process that contribute to the risk rather than the meat itself. Consider these factors to help you decide whether you want to eat smoked meats.
- Smoking cooks meat very slowly, using a covered grill or a smoker. Smoking can preserve meats, allowing them to be stored at room temperature. Cold smoking cooks the meat using lower temperature and the process could take several days. Cold smoking is not advisable for fish, as some parasites in fish cannot be destroyed without exposing them to high temperatures.
- High level of sodium used in preparing the meat is one of the factors that make eating smoked meat risky. High sodium intake can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure. Meat naturally contains sodium. Meat rubs, where salt is the main ingredient increases the amount of salt in the food to be smoked. The average daily intake of sodium should be below 2.300 mg. According to research report of the Harvard Family Health Guide, the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes increases when smoked meats are consumed versus eating fresh red meat.
- Meat is a good source of minerals like iron and is protein-rich as well. Beef and pork contain more fat that lean meats such as fish, chicken breast, turkey, venison or buffalo. There are fish species that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for cardiovascular health and the nervous system. Consuming smoked meats in moderation should not pose much of a health risk. Moreover, smoking allows fat to drip off the meat, which greatly reduces its fat content.
- Generally, according to researchers, smoking meats lead to the production of carcinogens. An increase in carcinogen content is attributed to overheated smoker or griller. It is said that smoking meats at home produces more carcinogens compared to those prepared industrially. This could be attributed to the specific temperature controls maintained by manufacturers. Illness and chemical contamination when using makeshift smokers increase the health risk when smoking meats. The of overheating is greatly lessened if you are using a quality smoker because according to Masterbuilt Smoker reviews, these types have an auto-shutdown mechanism that activates when there is too much heat inside the smoker.
- Smoking meat produces many by-products that are toxic. Wood smoke produces toxic substances like benzopyrenes. Nitrates and nitrites that are by-products of curing agents, are carcinogenic. Grilling or smoking meat over an open flame at high temperatures lead to the formation of heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
- Eating smoked meat increases the risk of developing pancreatic, prostate and colorectal cancers. It also increases the risk of developing stomach infections from bacterial contamination like E.coli, causing stomach pain and diarrhoea and Listeria monocytogenes. The latter triggers stomach pains, headache and fever.
Recognise the fact that smoking meat can expose you to many health risks. However, it does not mean that you have to avoid eating smoked meat at all. Do it occasionally and if you smoke meat at home, ensure that you follow proper meat preparation. Thaw and marinate your meat inside the refrigerator. Maintain smoking temperature between 225 and 300 °F (107.2 and 148.9 °C).
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