Who doesn’t like to see glowing hot aromatic sausages? And yet beneath the beauty of this reddish tubular meat is a dirty little secret.
Sausage is not raw natural meat. Sausage is meat that has been processed. And processed meats such as ham, bacon, hot dogs and sausages are often laced with the preservative sodium nitrate (NaNO3) or its close relative sodium nitrite (NaNO2). These chemicals help to preserve the colour of the meat. Realized that your sausage retains its reddish colour even after cooking? That’s not by any chance.
It is believed that sodium nitrate can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. The preservative, it is feared, can narrow and stiffen the blood vessels, increasing the risk of blood pressure and heart disease.
Secondly, nitrates are feared to alter the way the body uses sugar, putting you at risk of diabetes.
Studies have also shown that sodium nitrite causes cancer in animals when consumed in large quantities. But many experts believe only children and pregnant women should be concerned because nitrites suppress bacteria and reduce the possibility of food poisoning. Besides, other foods that we eat contain nitrites.
So what now? The very chemicals that preserve sausage and reduce its chances of causing food poisoning are also feared to be harmful and carcinogenic. What should we do?
The answer lies in large quantities. Animals get cancer when sodium nitrite is consumed in high amounts. So it’s as simple as not consuming sausage in large amounts. If you don’t eat so much of it, you should be fine.