It is impossible to resist the smoky aroma and sizzling sound of smoking meat. Besides, the charred appearance of smoked food encourages you to consume grilled meat every day.
But while smoked meats are quite addictive and have an unmatched flavor, excess consumption of these “burnt foods” can lead to stomach pains, diarrhea, and even stomach cancer in some cases. According to experts, the process of smoking uses a variety of chemical reactions to give you an irresistible and sinful smoked meat. But at the same time, in the absence of safety standards, some reactions can prove to be quite unhealthy for your body.
So, does that mean that you should stop consuming smoked meat altogether? No, eating smoked meat might be bad, but only if you consume it daily or enjoy it more than required. If you are eating it in moderation and following all the safety standards, you can consume smoked meat one to two times a week.
The guide below will help you understand everything about eating smoked meat and the standards required to smoke meat safely.
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How Does Smoking Benefit Your Meat?
Before we get into the dark side of smoked meat, let’s explore why people smoke meat anyway. Smoking is an ancient process that was used to preserve meat in the olden days. But today, this process helps add flavor and enhance the appearance of the meat.
Interestingly, many people may not know that there are four unique smoking methods. Hot and warm smoking use different smokers for cooking meat at high temperatures. But cold smoking only uses low temperatures to add a smoky flavor to the meat.
There is also liquid smoke which most people use as an alternative to all the above methods. While this smoke is much safer than hot and warm smoking methods, it still contains many toxic substances that can lead to cancer.
So, what are the different benefits of smoked meat?
Rich in Protein
Smoked meat is rich in protein which is quite significant for your health. In addition, it helps build muscles, which is why most health-freaks and bodybuilders consume it more than often.
Do you know that different kinds of smoked meats have high levels of useful nutrients and minerals? For example, when cooked at low heat, smoked food retains its nutrients which helps to build a powerful immune system. In addition, smoked fish like salmon is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your blood.
Since smoking meat doesn’t demand extra oil to cook, you get less fat in your final dish. So, as opposed to frying or cooking meat, smoking reduces fat absorption and makes the resultant product healthy.
As long as you are consuming 18 ounces of meat just two times every week, you will be able to reap all the above benefits. But if you end up consuming more than this required amount, you might have to bear the consequences.
Why is Smoked Meat Bad?
Just because smoked meat is rich in protein and low-fat content doesn’t mean you can have it daily without any regrets. An overindulgence in grilled meat, a wrong smoking technique, and high sodium levels can cause many health problems.
Smoked Meat has High Levels of Sodium
If you eat smoked meat every day, you might already be suffering from high blood pressure caused by raised sodium levels in your meal. If not treated on time, this issue may affect your kidneys as well.
Smoked meat is often brined with a salt solution before it is slathered with salty rub. Unfortunately, these procedures result in high salt levels in your food that you easily ingest.
Sodium is a mineral and also an electrolyte that helps keep a normal water balance in your body. But when consumed in very high doses, sodium can harm your organs and also affect your life. Moreover, it may also cause overhydration.
This Meat Contains Heterocyclic Amines and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHS) Compounds
According to a 2017 study, when smoked at high temperatures, smoked meat may increase cancer risk. This is because meat carcinogens are quite toxic and are a by-product of many chemical reactions. The most common carcinogenic substances are Nitrosamines, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and Heterocyclic aromatic amines.
These substances can negatively impact your health in many ways. For instance, eating smoked meats regularly can cause human cancer. Moreover, the toxic carcinogens might also be harmful to pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with low immunity.
As per a report, the type or quality of wood may affect the number of carcinogenic substances present in grilled meats. So, make sure you take your fuel sources very seriously.
Smoked Meat May Cause Stomach Infections
If you are still wondering why smoked meat is bad, we have another reason to help you understand. Unfortunately, grilling meat may have several bacteria. Clostridium botulinum and Listeria contaminations are often associated with smoked and processed meats.
These bacteria can cause severe stomach pain, cramps, and even fever. If not dealt with on time, a listeria infection may also result in extreme diarrhea. Pasteurization can kill bacteria, but Listeria grows in places with cold temperatures and is mostly found in cold smoked meats.
Smoked Meats Increase Stroke Risk and Chances of Diabetes
In addition to increased cancer risk, excess consumption of smoked meat can also cause type 2 diabetes and heart strokes. These problems are more likely to occur when you consume hot dogs and processed cuts than fresh meat.
So, is Eating Smoked Meat Bad?
It isn’t, but you need to ensure that you aren’t consuming more than what is safe. Moreover, you can’t only blame the meal. The process, technique, and ingredients also affect the quality of smoked meat you choose to consume.
Here are some ways in which you can decrease the risk of cancer while eating smoked meat:
Reduce the Quantity
As already mentioned above, if you are eating more than 18 ounces of smoked meat every week, reduce the quantity. Moreover, don’t eat this meat more than two times a week. If you are into muscle building and can’t eat cooked meat, make sure to enjoy smoked meats only three times a week.
Create New Combinations
If reduced quantities of meat cannot make you feel full, create a plate with different healthy options. For instance, serve vegetables, fruits, bread with your main meal dish. To save yourself from eating more meat than required, you can also have different sides, such as baked beans, potato wedges, and coleslaw.
Use Fresh Meat Over Processed
Instead of smoking red meat every day, choose poultry options that are light and healthy. Moreover, fresh meat is always a better option than processed and packaged meat.
If possible, buy fresh meat from your nearest butcher shop and cook it within a few days. Unfortunately, the quality of all kinds of meat deteriorates with time, so make sure you consume it before it goes bad.
While the right quantity of smoked meat can save you from all health problems, leading an active lifestyle can also help create a healthy balance in your body. So, make sure you walk and exercise daily. This habit can help your system kick all the toxic elements out of your body.
Liquid smoke is a far less harmful smoke option than warm and hot smoking. But make sure to go for a branded smoke liquid with very few artificial components and nil carcinogens.
Try Low-sodium Varieties
Instead of going for branded rubs with high salt content, go for products less rich in sodium or nitrates. Also, if you can smoke meat without brining it, avoid this additional procedure as much as you can.
Opt for Good-Quality Charcol
On days when you plan to prepare smoked meat, make sure you have high-quality charcoal available for your smoker. Moreover, don’t use more than two wood chips to create smoke. Also, avoid keeping the chips on the charcoal’s top for the whole smoking period.
Remove the chips as soon as possible as this will help produce white smoke rather than a black one. Black smoke is not only bad for your food but can also affect your lungs if inhaled frequently.
Also, make sure to keep all the vents open to avoid any accumulation of smoke. Of course, the best place to smoke meat is your backyard or any open space.
There is no better-looking, juicier, and more tender food than well-smoked meat. It is rich in texture and flavor and is often the main attraction of any bbq party. That said, we can’t deny that overconsumption of smoked meat is quite unhealthy.
Since this meat has excess salt and many toxic carcinogens, it’s best to enjoy it in moderation. So, if you have been consuming smoked meat every night, reduce the quantity and enjoy it only two times a week. Besides, maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow all the safety standards while smoking the meat.
Here’s hoping that you will take this message seriously.