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Are cured meats and pickled/fermented foods ok?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 26, 2012 at 4:51 PM

I love, emphasize LOVE curred meats. I am always sure to check ingredients to make sure there is no sugar or other additives involved, but beyond the ingredients, are cured meats good for the paleo lifestyle? Also, I try to eat as locally as possible and enjoy pickling fruits and veggies for the winter, are there any problems with pickled foods? Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks all!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 26, 2012
at 04:14 PM

This is also a great Katz piece that was recent: http://civileats.com/2012/06/21/the-prince-of-pickles-sandor-katz-on-the-art-of-fermentation/ his mustache is so awesome - like a little animal. YAY! Glad you like the blog! More to come, a few things came up and haven't been cooking, so stay tuned! I look forward to distracting you from work.

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on June 26, 2012
at 02:08 PM

Interesting. Thanks. The news story yesterday morning, though it had an element of skepticism, wasn't bad for mainstream news. Also, I just looked at your blog, the food pictures too appealing for work/desk viewing.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 26, 2012
at 01:58 PM

Heck yeah! I tweeted and FB'd that - super good. It's Meat Week on NPR, the "Time Travelers Cookbook" is pretty fun, first up was replicating the Paleolithic Diet: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/24/155506989/the-time-travelers-cookbook-meat-lovers-edition?ft=1&f=1053&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on June 26, 2012
at 01:18 PM

Sandor Katz is pretty interesting listening. There are a few good podcasts on iTunes and his interview with Terry Gross is accessible via the NPR website.

F4b9ff9c2f7e7670253a22851b6542cf

(50)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:26 AM

Very helpful. Thank you.

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on March 29, 2012
at 10:45 PM

They can, but (1) the nitrates would have to be converted to nitrites; (2) those high-nitrate vegetables would have to be cooked in the presence of protein; and (3) those high-nitrate vegetables would have to be cooked in the absence of Vitamin C, which blocks nitrosamine synthesis. The reason why you see sodium erythorbate in the ingredients list of processed meats is that it's a cheaper analog of ascorbate (i.e. Vitamin C) for the purpose of blocking this reaction.

F4b9ff9c2f7e7670253a22851b6542cf

(50)

on March 27, 2012
at 08:44 PM

Just curious. Are nitrosamines created when veggies containing natural nitrates are cooked?

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on March 27, 2012
at 03:38 PM

Nitrosamines are also created in the stomach after nitrites and meat are ingested, even if you are eating raw cured meat. If we were talking about sulfited food, it might be a differend matter, but (a) the practice of sulfiting meat is banned in the US because it destroys thiamine and can be used for deceptively re-reddening fresh meat (the only exception I'm aware of being processing with an already sulfited ingredient like red wine), and (b) 1% of the population, including many here on PH and yours truly, have acute problems with sulfites.

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on March 27, 2012
at 12:41 AM

Of concern are the carcinogenic nitrosamines that are formed when nitrates and/or nitrites are heated in combination with amino acids (i.e., when you cook cured meat.)

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on March 26, 2012
at 09:30 PM

I'm in NY as well - have you been able to grab anything by Real Pickles yet? At Union Square greenmarket and Whole Foods. I'm actually eating one of their pickles right.. now. Damn, their jalapeno sauerkraut is freaking amazing.

363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on March 26, 2012
at 09:23 PM

Their sauerkraut is the best! I buy it by the gallon! And their salt cured olives! Though my favorite pickles are Horman's Best in NoHo!

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on March 26, 2012
at 07:05 PM

It depends what you consider "strictly paleo". I'm not aware of any paleo guru that says fermented foods are bad, since we're not trying to push re-enactment here. On the contrary, fermented foods are generally considered very healthy, and humans have been consuming them for quite a long time.

Da7e812dfbc1d5ada748c1baa67f47c4

(95)

on March 26, 2012
at 05:18 PM

Thanks for the reassurance!

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8 Answers

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4
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on March 26, 2012
at 09:26 PM

Its kind of all about eating real whole food, right? Primal, Paleo, WAPF.. or me - Ninja.

In my opinion I don't see any reason not to include fermented foods. They're good for you and don't necessarily mean that you're suddenly WAPF. Ahhh - kidding :) I mean, every body is different so what works for me may not work for you because our biochemistry is different, goals, et al. Right? Right.

Here is a great article on fermented foods by Mark "Count My Abs" Sisson

The benefits of fermented foods: Rich in enzymes, good for all the lil gut flora, improves digestion and absorption of nutrients - improve digestion and you improve absorption. BOOM! And it's ohh so good.

And finally:

???In the normal scheme of things, we???d never have to think twice about replenishing the bacteria that allow us to digest food. But since we???re living with antibiotic drugs and chlorinated water and antibacterial soap and all these factors in our contemporary lives that I???d group together as a ???war on bacteria,??? if we fail to replenish [good bacteria], we won???t effectively get nutrients out of the food we???re eating.??? ??? Sandor Katz

Umm.. I really like fermented foods.

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on June 26, 2012
at 02:08 PM

Interesting. Thanks. The news story yesterday morning, though it had an element of skepticism, wasn't bad for mainstream news. Also, I just looked at your blog, the food pictures too appealing for work/desk viewing.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 26, 2012
at 04:14 PM

This is also a great Katz piece that was recent: http://civileats.com/2012/06/21/the-prince-of-pickles-sandor-katz-on-the-art-of-fermentation/ his mustache is so awesome - like a little animal. YAY! Glad you like the blog! More to come, a few things came up and haven't been cooking, so stay tuned! I look forward to distracting you from work.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on June 26, 2012
at 01:58 PM

Heck yeah! I tweeted and FB'd that - super good. It's Meat Week on NPR, the "Time Travelers Cookbook" is pretty fun, first up was replicating the Paleolithic Diet: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/24/155506989/the-time-travelers-cookbook-meat-lovers-edition?ft=1&f=1053&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

474ae29b80569199c6589e879e6cd7d1

on June 26, 2012
at 01:18 PM

Sandor Katz is pretty interesting listening. There are a few good podcasts on iTunes and his interview with Terry Gross is accessible via the NPR website.

3
1bbcd2122d9c75b07440f22ef57d6448

(2934)

on March 26, 2012
at 05:12 PM

Pickling/fermenting may not be strictly paleo, as you can't pull sauerkraut out of the ground, but consumption of fermented foods has been recommended by a number of paleo gurus as a way to cultivate healthy gut flora. I regularly eat sauerkraut and other fermented foods without any problems whatsoever.

Da7e812dfbc1d5ada748c1baa67f47c4

(95)

on March 26, 2012
at 05:18 PM

Thanks for the reassurance!

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on March 26, 2012
at 07:05 PM

It depends what you consider "strictly paleo". I'm not aware of any paleo guru that says fermented foods are bad, since we're not trying to push re-enactment here. On the contrary, fermented foods are generally considered very healthy, and humans have been consuming them for quite a long time.

2
4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on March 26, 2012
at 06:58 PM

Pickling and fermenting, done traditionally (I.e. with salt or whey rather than vinegar) is incredibly beneficial. The WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) uses traditionally fermented vegetables a lot.

I live in NYC, and the Pickle Guys make amazing traditionally fermented pickles, sourkraut, pickled watermelon rind, pineapple, and more. I've also experimented with home fermenting kimchi and sourkraut.

Meat is slightly harder, as USDA regulations require the use of nitrites (or naturally occurring nitries from celery) in all cured meat products. It can also be really hard (and incredibly expensive) to source pastured cultured meat products.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on March 26, 2012
at 09:30 PM

I'm in NY as well - have you been able to grab anything by Real Pickles yet? At Union Square greenmarket and Whole Foods. I'm actually eating one of their pickles right.. now. Damn, their jalapeno sauerkraut is freaking amazing.

363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on March 26, 2012
at 09:23 PM

Their sauerkraut is the best! I buy it by the gallon! And their salt cured olives! Though my favorite pickles are Horman's Best in NoHo!

0
651148c77780a3d3b2af3d847bd9a7b3

on June 26, 2012
at 07:54 AM

Are cured meats and pickled/fermented foods ok?

As far as I know, fermented foods are really healthy. Here, read an article about the benefits of fermented foods (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/03/18/mcbride-and-barringer-interview.aspx)

0
3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

on March 26, 2012
at 09:32 PM

So far, I'm only eating cured pork occasionally (i.e., bacon). And some corned beef -- I rationalize saying if I'm eating bacon, then why not corned beef? They both contain nitrates.

As for cured cold cuts like salami and pepperoni, no. In fact, I'm planning on forgoing cured meats for good when I run out of my bacon and corned beef.

0
F4b9ff9c2f7e7670253a22851b6542cf

on March 26, 2012
at 08:45 PM

There seems to be concern in Paleo about Nitrates. I'm not sure why though since it occurs naturally in vegetables and it may help lower BP.

www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/news/20061227/nitrates-lower-blood-pressure

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on March 27, 2012
at 12:41 AM

Of concern are the carcinogenic nitrosamines that are formed when nitrates and/or nitrites are heated in combination with amino acids (i.e., when you cook cured meat.)

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on March 27, 2012
at 03:38 PM

Nitrosamines are also created in the stomach after nitrites and meat are ingested, even if you are eating raw cured meat. If we were talking about sulfited food, it might be a differend matter, but (a) the practice of sulfiting meat is banned in the US because it destroys thiamine and can be used for deceptively re-reddening fresh meat (the only exception I'm aware of being processing with an already sulfited ingredient like red wine), and (b) 1% of the population, including many here on PH and yours truly, have acute problems with sulfites.

F4b9ff9c2f7e7670253a22851b6542cf

(50)

on March 30, 2012
at 02:26 AM

Very helpful. Thank you.

F4b9ff9c2f7e7670253a22851b6542cf

(50)

on March 27, 2012
at 08:44 PM

Just curious. Are nitrosamines created when veggies containing natural nitrates are cooked?

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on March 29, 2012
at 10:45 PM

They can, but (1) the nitrates would have to be converted to nitrites; (2) those high-nitrate vegetables would have to be cooked in the presence of protein; and (3) those high-nitrate vegetables would have to be cooked in the absence of Vitamin C, which blocks nitrosamine synthesis. The reason why you see sodium erythorbate in the ingredients list of processed meats is that it's a cheaper analog of ascorbate (i.e. Vitamin C) for the purpose of blocking this reaction.

0
Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on March 26, 2012
at 07:08 PM

The major concern over cured meats is their nitrate/sodium content. There's a case against smoked foods, too, but I question whether it's worth worrying about unless you consume an enormous amount of smoked foods on a daily basis.

0
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 26, 2012
at 05:40 PM

Pickled/fermented is great for probiotics (better than the pills, get it from the source!). Also, for cured meats, really, really try and find some that don't have nitrates in them (or at least very low, like some artisan varieties) and always check the label for gluten!! Enjoy :)

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