What’s So Bad About: Deli Meat

What’s So Bad About: Deli Meat

Our fearless columnist, Heidi, is back with the skinny on deli meats and their no-so-great additives. We’re not talking about your freshly shaved from the bone, New York deli sandwich piled high with roasted turkey straight from the oven. Think from a box or shaved from one of those loaves that dont resemble the animal it came from, at all. What she found may be a reason to start switching up your lunch options. You be the judge…. L.K.

Loaded with sodium(heart disease), saturated fats (heart disease and diabetes) and nitrites (links to cancer), it is a real wonder why we keep feeding our kids deli meats. Did I say we? I meant me. My daughter loves ham and cheese sandwiches. While I always knew deli meats weren’t great on the health front, I turned a blind eye because, well, she’ll eat it.

I spoke with Beata Blajer, Registered Dietitian at the Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket whose focus is Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation and Diabetes Education. While not a fan of deli meats, she does say “We needn’t eliminate them from our diet. We simply have to make healthier choices. You must read the labels and be sure to look for deli meats that are low sodium, and low fat, like roast turkey or chicken, and to look for the nitrite free versions.” As for the rest of it? Personally, when a food item makes people fat, has been linked to cancer and heart disease, I’m afraid that’s three strikes for me. My two cents: skip it.


Blajer recommends other protein sources for sandwiches like tuna, salmon, and egg, or left over poultry, or meat from the day before can be sliced and used in sandwiches. All great alternatives to processed deli meat, or for some lunch inspiration, check out Laptop Lunch.

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  1. Anna
    October 08, 01:55 Reply

    We buy from a local store: organic turkey that is both nitrate and nitrite free. I will have to check the sodium levels, thanks for the heads up about that being a factor.

    It's pricey deli meat, but it's worth it to enjoy a turkey sandwich from time to time! We don't eat ham or roast beef either though. 🙂

  2. Ceri
    October 08, 02:03 Reply

    Thanks, Anna, so glad you liked the post! Just had a quick look at your blog – so sweet. I'll definitely go back again. So nice to meet like minded Mums!

  3. Tagartt
    October 09, 12:23 Reply

    Any concerns about the mercury in the tuna?

  4. Ceri
    October 09, 13:00 Reply

    Hi Tagartt,
    From my own research it seems that skipjack tuna – often used in canned tuna – is fairly low in mercury and is safe to eat at least once per week. Thanks for your question!

  5. Liza
    December 19, 23:46 Reply

    Hi Ceri, we met just hours ago at that baby shower; am checking out SPC and its great!!! So glad to see my friend Heidi Pyper writing on the horrors of food colour, high fructose corn syrup, and, gulp, salt! Scary stuff…I try to stay away from deli meat and am at my wits’ end when it comes to my children’s lunch. Making something healthy that my kids will eat is a HUGE challenge now that nuts and sometimes seeds, eggs, dairy, fish, etc. have been banned from my kids’ school due to allergies. In my opinion, concerns over anaphylactic allergies at toronto public schools have made healthy lunch unimportant. Could be an interesting feature…

  6. Ceri Marsh
    December 22, 10:00 Reply

    Hi Liza! So nice meeting you and I’m thrilled you like the site! No surprise you like Heidi’s post – they’re always amazing (even if they scare us a little). My kids aren’t in school yet so I’m shocked to hear that it’s not just nuts that are outlawed at school. Definitely a good idea for a story – thank you.

    Can’t wait to check out your new store, Nut House – sounds amazing!!

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