Beyond The Sandwich

Using deli meat is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to prepare tasty, everyday lunches. However, that trip to the deli aisle could cost you.

Processed meat poses a potential health risk due to its sodium levels and nitrite content. Sodium, which contributes to hypertension and heart disease when eaten in excess, is often used with nitrites to cure meat and prevent it from spoiling and browning. Brands may present their cuts as healthier and natural, but even naturally derived nitrites that come from celery aren’t much better than the alternative. 

When it comes to lunchmeat, there’s a host of unhealthy ingredients that can be present, no matter how healthy it may appear, due to the need for preservation. The key is to find the choices that contain less of those ingredients.

Read The Labels

Besides bologna, which is essentially cooked sausage with the addition of salt and flavorings, there is little nutritional difference between other lunch meats like ham and roast beef. Turkey is typically regarded as a healthier option because it’s leaner, with less sodium and more protein. Ultimately, the difference can be found in which brand you choose. Next time you’re shopping for cold cuts, try to examine the ingredients a little closer. It’s best to look for organic options. Compare brands to find those with less sodium. Stay away from ingredients like sodium nitrate/nitrite and corn syrup.

Other Options

Instead of giving up deli meats, limit your intake by cutting back on the frequency in which you consume them. On some days, vary your go-to sandwich by trying something new. Switching up your weekly lunches will not only be healthier, it will add variety.

Wrap It Up 

Wraps can be filled with lettuce, a lunch meat and whichever ingredients you prefer. Hummus, corn and carrots are delicious add-ins. Turkey, tomato and Parmesan come together on a thick bread and can be pressed and eaten as a panini. For a lighter option, replace the bread of your favorite sandwich with sliced cucumbers, which reduces carbs and adds a refreshing crunch if you’re a fan of the vegetable. Bread is optional when it comes to delicious, homemade lunches. Turkey roll-ups can be enjoyed alone for easy-to-eat finger food or with the addition of cheese. They are complemented nicely with a spread of mayonnaise and veggies. Don’t be afraid to add lemon or lime, basil and other spices for a little extra flavor.

Skip The Deli Meat Altogether 

Without lunch meat, substitute the bulk of the sandwich with hard-boiled egg or tuna or opt for vegetables. A spinach, tomato and avocado sandwich can be eaten as is or with the addition of mozzarella cheese. The possibilities for a quick but delicious lunch are endless. The only thing left to do is to find which combination is your favorite.

Sources: eatingwell.com, cebp.aacrjournals.org, eatthis.com
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