Why Should You Stay Away From Processed Meat?

What exactly defines "good" food? We aren't just asking what tastes good or looks good: rather, what food is good down to its core, and what separates it from all the other junk?

In a word: Quality.

When it comes to managing your diet, one of the first factors to consider is the quality of your food. Quality comes into question when foods are processed, and processed meats are especially suspect. Processing meat involves the curing, smoking, and (sometimes) hormone injection of various meat products that are then sold as hot dogs, lunch meat, and even bacon.

Most people think they are safe as long as they stick to leaner proteins, even if their chicken or turkey is highly processed. But not reading labels can cost you down the line. "In general, processed meats include a collection of meat that would otherwise be thrown away," says New York City cardiovascular surgeon Dr. David Greuner, "but is combined with other typically non-edible products and chemicals to artificially create a palatable mixture. This means that not only are the least nutritious byproducts of animals used, but artificial fillers, flavors, and preservatives are added, at times, in large quantities to ensure that the new concoction is both flavorful and visually appealing, despite the dismal nutritional profile."

Dr. Susan Lin, physician and founder of MD Products, says that she avoids these products "due to high prevalence of E. coli in the meat supply."

"These are among the worst processed foods because of the high fat and high sodium content but even more so the nitrates used as preservatives," shares Dr. Rohit Chandra, child and adult psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital-Chelsea and instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "These have been linked to stomach cancer among other illnesses."

Instead, try eating a fresh salad, quinoa, or even a vegetable wrap for lunch. Your body will thank you.

To check out More Foods Doctors Won't Eat, click here.