Why You Should Start Buying Deli Meat Instead Of Packaged Meat

If you aren't vegetarian or vegan, lunch meat — whether it be packaged or straight off the bone from the deli — is most likely a staple in your day-to-day. From turkey wraps and ham and cheese to an olive loaf sandwich and the fan-favorite bologna, they are incredibly versatile, not to mention convenient. They can be packed with protein, iron, zinc, and many more of your daily vitamins and minerals, according to The North American Meat Institute. These pre-cooked, cured, and ready-to-eat ingredients have grown exponentially in popularity over the decades, so much so that they have their own holiday in the U.S. March 3 is officially considered National Cold Cut Day, according to National Today.

While your favorite packaged, grocery store lunch meat certainly has some advantages, including relatively low prices and a convenient grab-and-go aspect, there may be other, superior options.

Switching to deli meat

Unfortunately, there is more to lunch meat than meets the eye, including unhealthy quantities of sodium and saturated fat and the presence of potentially dangerous chemical preservatives, according to Eating Well. There have even been concerns that the nitrates often added to the meats by manufacturers can lead to the production of carcinogenic compounds during the cooking process or while being digested.

For this reason, Cleveland Clinic recommends purchasing from a deli, as these meats are more likely to contain natural nitrates and are often significantly less processed than packaged lunch meats. Also taking into consideration what type of meat you are buying can also be of importance. Per Livestrong, your best options for deli meat include sliced turkey or chicken breast, due to their low calorie count and high amount of protein. Cleveland Clinic also recommends purchasing low-sodium options if they are available to you, as well as leaner cuts of the meat, as these will typically contain a lower fat content, including less unhealthy saturated fats.