Various deli meats with hot dogs
Food For Better Health,  Healthy Eating,  How Food Works,  Main Course,  Recipes,  Turkey

Why Deli Meats Are Killing Us

Have you ever heard of nitrates and nitrites?

Did you know, they are in almost ALL deli meats and processed meats?

Ergo Spout Affiliate partner

The only positive thing I can say about nitrates and nitrites; they inspired me to start my blog.

Surprisingly, those harmful chemicals are throughout our food supply.

Why isn’t someone screaming from the rooftops –  “Hey, that crap causes cancer in you!”

so…I started JoAnn’s Food Bites!

What Are Nitrates and Nitrites?

They are inorganic chemical compounds found naturally in all kinds of foods, including vegetables.

Once these foods react with your stomach acids, they can help lower blood pressure.



HOWEVER, an overabundance of nitrates/nitrites, like found in deli-meats, converts nitrates & nitrites to nitrosamine.

Don't be fooled by food labels on deli meatsNitrosamine is the same carcinogenic found in tobacco.

Nitrates and nitrites are added to deli-meats to prevent bacterial growth and act as a preservative for color and flavor.

Don’t be fooled by those labels stating, “contains NO NITRATES/NO NITRITES.”

Make sure to read the fine print. Many say, “except those naturally occurring in celery powder.”

It still contains NITRATES and NITRITES.

IN FACT, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) REQUIRES manufactures, BY LAW, to write “contains NO Nitrates/NO Nitrites,” when it occurs “naturally” in the product.

Here is what the North American Meat Institute had to say:

North American Meat Institute about nitrates in deli meats
Courtesy of Dr. Oz television show

Want to Stop Eating Process Foods?


What You Should Know When Buying Processed Meats

Consumer Reports performed a test on 31 brands of deli-meat.

In the test, were various types of meat, chicken, salami, and roast beef, just to mention a few.

They compared brands which had “nothing” regarding nitrates on the label;  to those which displayed claims of “no nitrates.”

All contained nitrates…ALL OF THEM!

Brands without any labeling; contained 12 micrograms of nitrates.

Brands with labels claiming “no nitrates” contained 9 micrograms

Virtually no difference…

The World Health Organization says you incur an  18% higher chance  of developing colon cancer if you consume 50 grams of processed meats per day.

Which equals to about six, thinly sliced deli-meat.

AND, includes our beloved bacon.

SALT in deli-meats

high salt content in deli meatsBesides the cancer causing nitrates, high levels of sodium are found in most processed foods.

Consider buying “reduced/low sodium” deli-meat.

The recommended daily allowance for sodium, in a heart healthy diet, is no greater than 2300 milligrams per day.

If you have high-blood pressure, you should have no more than 1500 mg per day.

Over 700 mg are in just six thin slices of deli-meat!

The lowest sodium content found in deli-meats are the following:

  1. Boar’s Head Ovengold® Roasted Turkey Breast – Skinless
  2. Applegate Naturals® Smoked Turkey Breast
  3. Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Lower Sodium Rotisserie Chicken Breast
  4. Boar’s Head Simplicity® All Natural* Cap-Off Top Round Oven Roasted Beef
  5. Land O’Frost Simply Delicious Hickory Smoked Ham

Should You Buy Deli Counter or Prepackaged Deli-Meats?

Opt for the deli counter.

Those are typically fresher and contain less preservatives.

Be wary of cheaper options. They probably contain more fillers.

 Fillers – include soy concentrate, flours, starches, breadcrumbs, and mechanically de-boned meats – such as chicken and turkey parts 

Always ask the assistant to disgard the first cut. The second cut is more fresh.

You never know how long ago, the previous customer bought from that meat.

Make sure the assitant is wearing gloves.

Never buy premade deli sandwiches. Always buy deli sandwiches which are made right in front of you.

Roast beef, turkey and chicken are more healthy options because they contain less fat, salt and calories.

Roast your own turkey breast and slice it up for sandwiches!

Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

Instead of buying unhealthy deli meats, why not roast your own turkey breast, then slice it up for a delicious sandwich and it is better for you.
Course Turkey
Cuisine American
Keyword roasted turkey, turkey
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 126kcal
Author All Recipes


  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic and herb seasoning blend such as Mrs. Dash®
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 3 pound turkey breast with skin
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 splash dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half optional


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Roast in the preheated oven for 1 hour; baste turkey breast with remaining butter mixture. Return to oven and roast until the juices run clear and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, not touching bone, reads 165 degrees F (65 degrees C), about 30 more minutes. Let turkey breast rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
  • While turkey is resting, transfer pan drippings to a skillet.
    Skim off excess grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon in skillet. Place skillet over low heat; cook and stir shallot in turkey grease until opaque, about 5 minutes. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet with shallot and whisk in white wine, scraping any browned bits of food from skillet. Whisk in chicken stock and flour until smooth. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened. For a creamier, lighter gravy, whisk in half-and-half.

Side Note:

If you decide to purchase deli-meats anyhow, a 2016 study released by the United States Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health suggested gargling twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash, which studies show,  kills enough nitrates in your mouth to significantly reduce nitrosamine in your digestive track. { }

However, the study also suggested, doing so can possibly raise your blood pressure levels.

Listerine, Cepacol and Chlorhexidine were tested against just plain water.

Will this article influence your decision about eating deli meats?



  • Lee

    Excellent article. We have been vigilant in our selection of finding nitrate free deli and processed meats for over a year during a recommendation from a diet we were on. Another use of the nitrates is a preservative, it presumably does the same with fat cells, hence not conducive when dieting. JoAnn your blogs are the best!

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