Americans have adopted healthier eating habits for decades, but the pandemic has reversed some of that progress. Processed foods like canned macaroni, canned soups and potato chips have made a comeback as restaurant locks and closures have paved the way for a renewed popularity of some unhealthy grocery options.
According to the latest data from major grocers, one category of processed foods that has seen an astronomical increase in popularity over the past year is deli meats. Supermarket news reports that the sliced meats category saw huge sales increases through October, in large part due to the increased number of in-home lunch opportunities. (Related: Doctors of the single vitamin urge everyone to take it now.)
“This can be attributed to the fact that for the most part people work from home and are at home most of the time, so these products are used more often for lunches and maybe even dinners”, Eric Richard, coordinator of Education from the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), said. “What has continued to drive a good chunk of these sales are the pre-sliced take-out options in the deli.”
Regardless of its low nutritional value, the convenience of pre-sliced meats has proven to be a major factor contributing to its popularity. While some Americans seek to avoid potential crowds around deli counters, they opt for pre-packaged sliced meats and cheeses, which were once the least popular option there.
The meat that was particularly appreciated? Bologna. “All of the subcategories are doing well, but Bologna was very strong throughout the pandemic,” said Karri Zwirlein, director of bakery, deli and ready meals for Tops Friendly Markets. Supermarket news. “The fact that the kids were at home and not at school for six months was really what drove this back then.
So how bad is deli meat really? It’s bad enough, according to nutrition experts. As well as being highly processed mystery meat, deli meats are loaded with fat, sodium, and preservatives like nitrites – everything you need to avoid for a healthy, balanced diet.
Take Bologna, for example, which often makes unhealthy grocery lists. A generic slice contains about 314 milligrams of sodium and 6 grams of fat. Multiply that by the number of slices that go in a sandwich, and lunch meat alone will get you closer to your recommended daily limits for these nutrients.
We recommend that you use cold cuts for lunch sparingly. Instead, opt for healthier protein sources, like tuna, lean chicken, hard-boiled eggs, or chickpeas in your homemade sandwiches.
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