When You Eat Deli Meats Every Day, This Happens To Your Body

Deli meats might be a go-to protein in your diet, but are they healthy? While some leaner meats are low-calorie, others are laden with saturated fat, as noted by Livestrong. And regardless of their nutritional content, all lunch meats are loaded with sodium. In other words — deli meats aren't exactly what healthy people eat for lunch

According to a study from the JNCI Cancer Spectrum, when consumed in excess, these large amounts of sodium can cause a lot of complicated conditions — including high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer (via Consumer Reports). Yes, it turns out that simple sandwich you have habitually eaten for lunch day after day might not be doing you or your body any favors. Of course, this is bad news, especially considering a Consumer Reports study which found that almost half of Americans eat deli meat at least once a week. 

While delicious, there are plenty of dangers you need to know about cold cuts — and some might even inspire you to nip that deli meat addiction in the bud by going cold turkey (pun intended). Here's a look at what happens to your body when you eat deli meats every day. 

Eating deli meats every day gives you plenty of body-fueling protein

Deli meats are definitely a convenient go-to, protein-rich food!

Whether piled on a hoagie or eaten as a snack, a cold cut makes for a super-easy and portable lunch option that packs a powerful protein punch. According to Healthline, the average sedentary adult woman should take in 46 grams of protein per day, while the average sedentary man should consume 56 grams per day. Since a two-ounce portion of turkey breast deli meat boasts approximately 13 grams of protein, as noted by Livestrong – a single sandwich can put you well on your way to attaining that daily consumption goal.

Why exactly is protein such an important part of your diet, though? As Nancy Waldeck, dietician at Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, explains, the human body doesn't store protein — which means it's up to us to ensure we're getting our daily dose. "It is important for individuals to consume protein every day," Waldeck revealed. She continued, saying, "Daily protein intake plays a role in keeping your cells in good shape and should be part of your daily health maintenance plan." 

Eating deli meats every day could increase your risk of getting cancer

Your favorite deli meat sub sandwich from your grocery store's deli counter might come with some serious health concerns. In fact, the World Health Organization has even classified these highly processed meats as "carcinogenic to humans." 

While the reasons for deli meats' cancer-causing properties are not entirely known, many health experts believe it has something to do with the meats' nitrate content, as noted by EatingWell. "We know that when nitrites combine with the amines in meat, they create nitrosamines, which some studies have found to be carcinogenic," Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.N., told EatingWell

Furthermore, through an analysis of various studies, the World Health Organization "estimated that every 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%." The IARC Working Group also found a possible increased risk for stomach cancers among people who eat deli meats every day, though the evidence was inconclusive (via the World Health Organization). So, while you might not have to give up deli meats entirely, you might want to seriously rethink your daily consumption. 

Eating deli meats every day increases your diabetes risk

Deli meat should probably be avoided if you don't want to increase your chance of getting diabetes. 

A 2010 Harvard School of Public Health study found that consuming just 50 grams of processed meat (or a couple slices of deli meat) every day could increase one's risk of getting diabetes by a whopping 19 percent. While sugars and carbohydrates are considered the biggest dietary variable in the eventual development of Type 2 diabetes, red meat has long been questioned as a potential factor. However, while researchers didn't find an increased risk for diabetes among people who eat red meat every day, they did find that the nitrates used to preserve deli meats can actually lower one's glucose tolerance — therefore increasing an individual's risk for diabetes. 

Still, you shouldn't worry too much about enjoying the more occasional cold-cut sub sandwich. Renata Micha, lead author of the Harvard study, said that consuming a single serving of deli meat each week yields a pretty low risk rate — so that turkey sub isn't exactly the worst food to order from your favorite sandwich shop every now and then.

Daily deli meat consumption can increase your risk for developing heart disease

Eating deli meats every day could seriously impact your heart health, according to researchers.

According to a Harvard School of Public Health study, eating a few pieces of deli meats on a daily basis could be associated with a 42 percent increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. "When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol," lead study author Renata Micha revealed. She continued, saying, "In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, four times more sodium and 50% more nitrate preservatives." 

According to the research, high levels of sodium in these preservatives could potentially drive up your blood pressure, a common and major factor contributing to heart disease. Additionally, deli meat is one of the worst foods for your cholesterol. Sorry to add insult to injury — but while you're restricting your cold cut intake, you should probably go ahead and limit the amount of bacon and hot dogs you eat, too. 

Eating deli meats every day helps your body get more vitamin B12

Deli meats may have the potential to wreak havoc on your health — but they aren't without their nutritional benefits. 

In addition to being a good source of protein, your beloved deli meats are also giving you a healthy dose of vitamin B12, according to HealthLinkBC. As Dr. Robert H. Shmerling revealed on Harvard's website, vitamin B12 is essential to red blood cell production. Without the vitamin, your body won't be able to make enough red blood cells, leading to a condition called vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. And, as if that doesn't sound bad enough, a vitamin B12 deficiency could affect nerve function in your extremities, brain, and spinal cord. "Because the human body cannot produce its own vitamin B12, we must consume it via our food or supplements," Dr. Shmerling explained. 

Still, despite this vitamin Benefit (with a capital "B"), you should try to curb your cold cut habit as much as possible, as the cons generally add up faster than the pros. If you're looking for a way to cut out deli meats while still getting your carnivorous fix, consider buying more unprocessed meats instead. 

Eating deli meats daily increases your risk of contracting listeria... so steer clear if you're pregnant

Add deli meats to the list of foods you shouldn't eat while pregnant.

Unfortunately, cold cuts are pretty much the ultimate forbidden food when pregnant. You might be craving all sorts yummy processed meats when you're expecting, but a ham and cheese sandwich or Italian sub are just two of the deli meat sandwiches you'll need to avoid throughout those trying (and tempting) nine months. 

According to experts, eating cold deli meats seriously increases your chances of contracting listeria — a dangerous bacteria. "It's important to understand that listeria itself is not a medical disease — but can cause a disease process,"  Dr. Runjhun Misra told NBC News, noting an infection caused by listeria is called "listeriosis." As Dr. Meghan May told NBC News, pregnant women may mistake listeriosis for a particularly bad case of morning sickness; however, if they don't get diagnosed, they could possibly pass the disease to their newborn child. "We worry about meningitis [in newborns] and also, when they're taking their first breaths, they may contaminate their respiratory tract with listeria if the mother is infected," Dr. May explained. 

You could see a spike in blood pressure if you eat deli meats every day

Eating deli meats every day could make your doctor raise her eyebrows at your blood pressure during your next check-up.

According to Healthline, a small portion of cold cuts contains approximately 500 mg of sodium. However, if you opt for a larger deli sandwich piled high with salty meats, and dressed with pickles, condiments, and flavorful fixings, your go-to deli sandwich could have more sodium than is recommended for a single day. Of course, you don't have to be a doctor to know that consuming so much sodium on a daily basis will undoubtedly take a toll on your blood pressure.

According to Cleveland Clinic, excessive sodium consumption can lead to hypertension, which causes your blood vessels to narrow and stiffen. Since narrow, stiff blood vessels mean that blood and oxygen will have a harder time moving freely throughout the body, your heart picks up the slack by working harder to pump blood — subsequently causing elevated blood pressure. "Elevated blood pressure, particularly over a long period of time, puts an incredible strain on the heart," Dr. Benico Barzilai explained to Cleveland Clinic. 

You'll consume an alarming amount of artificial ingredients when you eat deli meats every day

Deli meats are more than what meets the eye — and not in a good way.

Believe it or not, deli meats have a lot of extra junk in them — which is probably why the processed meats are among the foods healthy people never eat. Along with surprisingly high levels of sodium and potentially dangerous nitrates, a lot of packaged cold cuts are chock full of other bad-for-you additives and preservatives. As noted by Eat This, Not That!, many processed cold cut meats contain high fructose corn syrup and even artificial dyes — both things you're probably not trying to eat on a regular basis. 

If you're not familiar with high fructose corn syrup, you're probably wondering exactly why you should care whether or not it's in your sliced turkey. According to the American Heart Association, consuming too much high-fructose corn syrup (or too much of any sugar, really) often leads to weight gain or obesity — which, in turn, increases a person's risk for heart disease and diabetes. 

Daily deli meat consumption could result in weight gain

Those deli meats could turn into extra unwanted pounds if you're not careful. 

It may come as a surprise to find that some of your favorite deli meats are loaded with calories and fat. Salami, for example, has about 441 calories and 41 grams of fat (76 percent from saturated fats) in a 3.5 ounce serving, as noted by Livestrong. Needless to say, if you're watching your waistline, you might want to steer clear of that salami sandwich completely. 

Of course, there are plenty of other processed meats that are just as laden with fat and calories. Fortunately, however, you don't have to give up deli meats altogether; instead, you simply have to be more mindful about what you choose to eat. "Ham and turkey are both very lean," Dr. Frances Largeman-Roth told EatingWell, advising consumers to "look for brands that don't use antibiotics" and "opt for ones with no added sugar." Still, getting a leaner meat won't necessarily make your lunch healthy. If you are generously spreading on the mayonnaise and adding cheeses and other high-fat fixings, it's safe to say you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

Eating deli meats every day could make or break your keto diet

Some deli meats may be considered an acceptable protein if you're trying to stick to the ever-popular keto diet. However, your favorite deli meat could be one of the foods that sabotage your diet.

A strict, low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet will cause your body to enter ketosis — a metabolic state in which your body burns fat for energy and produces chemicals known as "ketones" to use as fuel (via WebMD). However, not all deli meats are acceptable for a keto-friendly diet. "Technically, cured meats and cold cuts are keto-friendly, as they are low in carbohydrates and high in fats and protein," Dr. Anna Cabeca told People. She continued, explaining, "However, the source makes the difference. Some cold cuts are infused with gluten to keep them moist, and some meats also have artificial preservatives and sweeteners."

According to Dr. Cabeca, these sugary additives have the potential to ruin your state of ketosis and significantly slow your weight loss journey. "Choose meats that are from free-range, grass-fed animals to the best of your ability," the doctor and author of The Hormone Fix advised. 

Eating deli meats every day could be giving you bad breath

Eating deli meats every day could possibly have a negative impact on your dating life. Or, at the very least, the bad breath caused by various deli meats could dash your hopes of going on a second date with your Tinder match.

If you regularly eat cold cuts, you might want to pop a mint or a piece of chewing gum afterwards. As it turns out, eating a lot of high-protein foods could be a factor in developing foul-smelling breath. According to Cooking Light, when your digestive system breaks down meats, you produce ammonia; often resulting in quite an unpleasant odor escaping your mouth. 

A more common reason for stinky breath is the very normal bacteria residing on your gums and tongue and in between your teeth, according to WebMD. However, as Dr. Harold Katz told Express, "Providing bacteria with plenty of protein elevates their number and the amount of waste they produce. More waste invariably leads to bad breath." 

You'll get a boost of energizing iron if you eat deli meats every day

Eating deli meats every day has plenty of downsides; however, that delicious cold cut sandwich could help boost your body's iron levels. 

According to Rogel Cancer Center, iron is an incredibly important mineral and one of the parts of hemoglobin — a substance found in red blood cells that helps the blood transport vital oxygen throughout the entire body. Those who are iron deficient are at risk of developing anemia — a condition caused by the underproduction of red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, joint pain, irregular heartbeat, and shortness of breath, among others (via WebMD)

One easy thing you can do to boost your nutritional iron: eat roast beef. This deli meat is chock-full of the must-have mineral, according to experts. "A 3-ounce serving of roast beef has 21 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat," sports nutritionist Chris Rosenbloom revealed on USASwimming.org. He continued, explaining, "Twenty grams of protein is recommended as a recovery dose after a hard workout, so a roast beef sandwich is a tasty way to get replenishing protein."

Eating deli meats every day could be hurting your complexion

Deli meats may be delicious, but your favorite sandwich could be causing your complexion to look less than radiant. 

According to Best Health, some skin experts believe that heavily processed food can lead to wrinkle-causing inflammation. "Inflammatory chemicals are essentially like acid rain on the [your skin's] collagen," Alan Logan, author of The Clear Skin Diet, told the magazine. 

Wrinkles might seem like a long-term consequence of cold cut consumption, but there are some other issues you might face after eating that $5 footlong. The high sodium and preservative content in cold cuts can make you retain water, and cause "swelling, and puffiness, particularly around the eyes," dermatologist Rhonda Klein told The Daily Meal. You know what they say: You are what you eat — and unless you want your skin to look like a slice of salami, try limiting deli-meats to the occasional meal.

Eating deli meats every day can cause uncomfortable tummy troubles

Eating deli meats every day could be the culprit behind your tummy troubles.

If you find that you are experiencing regular stomach issues, such as bloating and an aching feeling, it might be time to reevaluate your daily cold cut consumption. These processed meats contain all sorts of ingredients and additives that can stir up stomach discomfort. According to Livestrong, one surprising potential reason for stomach pain after eating deli meats is the lactose found in many of your favorite cold cuts. For lactose intolerant individuals, this unexpected source of lactose can cause bloating and pain.

According to registered dietician, Amy Shapiro, the salt in deli meats is also a major factor in feeling bloated and uncomfortable after indulging in cold cuts. "Deli meats are often cured or use salts to preserve them and they often have salt injected into them to add flavor and tenderness," Shapiro explained to Women's Health, advising readers to opt for a "low-salt variety" or even buy a fresh rotisserie version of the meat instead.