You may be surprised we chose Deli Meat for our next RD Kitchen!

Although deli meat often gets a bad rap, there are plenty of reasons it can be a good choice for many of us.

  • Saves Time. Deli meats do not require any prep or cooking time.
  • Saves Money. One pound of deli meat can cost as little as $2.79 and be used in a week’s worth of sandwiches. One pound of fresh meat can range from $3.99 for chicken to $11.49 for ham, but may only last a couple meals.
  • Convenient. Homemade sandwiches are an easy meal option that saves time, money, and potentially calories versus eating out.
  • Protein source. Just one thick slice of deli meat from the counter contains as much as 10 grams of protein.
  • Lean protein options. Deli turkey, chicken and ham are low in saturated fats.
  • Low sodium options. There are “no salt added” and “low sodium” options at the deli counter of most grocery stores.

The main reason deli meats get a bad rap is because they contain nitrates (which have been linked to cancer), but nitrates are necessary to stop the growth of botulism-causing bacteria, prevent spoilage, and give cured meats their color and flavor. Even deli meats labeled “natural” and “organic” contain some form of nitrates and provide the same potential health risks. You may be surprised to learn that, according to the CDC, only 6% of the nitrates we eat come from meat. Most of our nitrate intake comes from naturally occurring sources such as plants and water.

The bottom line is deli meat’s benefits far outweigh its potential risks. For that reason, don’t let nitrates scare you away from including deli meat in your diet.

Try this week’s recipe Sun-Dried Tomato & Turkey Roll-Up for lunch!

All of the information in this article is based on research performed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Position Statement regarding deli meat: “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics strives to communicate healthy eating messages that emphasize a balance of food and beverages within energy needs, rather than any one food or meal. When too much emphasis is given to a single food or food component, confusion and controversy can hinder, rather than facilitate, consumers’ ability to adopt healthy dietary patterns. Anyone concerned about how deli meat can be included into a healthy eating plan should consult a registered dietitian.”