It is well known that smoked meat is loved by many and thus, highly sought after. The obvious reason? The taste!
Meat lovers and indeed anyone, can confirm the pleasure of that “almost burnt” flavor you get from smoking meat. In fact, that special taste and smell is enough to get most people hooked.
Another standout factor is that the whole process of smoking meat allows for lots of flexibility and room to experiment. For instance, there is a large number of wood types used to smoke meat.
When burned correctly, each wood will influence the meat’s flavor differently. Some commonly used woods are oak, poplar, apple, beech, maple, pecan, hickory and cherry.
There is also an endless list of spices, herbs and seasonings that can be combined in the smoking process. This again boosts flavor while offering people a wide variety of taste combinations. Apart from the common salt and pepper, people often use rosemary, garlic, cayenne and paprika.
Disadvantages of Smoked Meat
As attractive-looking and great-tasting as it is, smoked meat is not always the safest food to consume. We have found that excess consumption can contribute to many health issues.
To help you understand better, some of these issues are listed below.
Generally, when meat and other animal products touch a hot surface, there is a formation of HCA’s (HeteroCyclic Amines). Also, when animal fat drops onto flames or hot coals, the smoke formed leads to the development of PAH’s (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons).
Both of these chemical compounds are potentially dangerous. They can alter our DNA and increase the possibility of developing cancer.
Whenever fuels (wood, coal, gas, oil) are burned, PAH’s are formed along with heat. This occurs due to the fuel undergoing incomplete combustion. The results in the smoked meat can be quite harmful.
Another danger that we face when smoking meat is an increased level of sodium. This comes from the high level of salt that is often used in cooking mixes. An excessive amount of sodium in the blood (hypernatremia) can lead to dehydration and fatigue.
One more concern that we face with excess smoked meat consumption is direct harm to the stomach. You will see this in the form of indigestion, diarrhea, stomach ache and possibly stomach cancer over a long period.
Generally speaking, these problems may arise when there is excessive consumption of smoked meat.
How to Reduce The Health Risks Of Smoked Meat
There are many ways to lessen the threats to health that come with smoking meat.
Read our methods and precautions to take to enjoy the flavor of smoked meat for many years to come.
Avoid High Temperatures
One factor to consider is the cooking temperature. Too much heat and your smoked meat will stand a higher chance of forming HCAs and PAHs. Remember, these are both potential cancer-causing chemicals.
Plus, high temperatures can lead to your meat charring. Charred meat does not taste so good, as it will be slightly bitter.
Fortunately, this issue can be avoided during the smoking process. Do this by smoking meat at low temperatures and letting it cook for a long period instead.
If meat is smoked for too long, there will be a greater accumulation of potentially harmful chemicals. Long term, this may put your health in danger.
As mentioned at the start, smoked meat is unique partly because of its “almost burnt” flavor. The most important factor is to know when to stop the smoking process to prevent the meat from getting burnt.
This might sound like a contradiction to the point above. In fact, longer cooking periods are preferred to higher temperatures so you need to find a balance. When smoking meat, cook for a long period without overcooking.
Reduce Artificial Seasonings
While seasoning for taste is vital, an excess of artificial chemicals may also affect your health. For instance, seasonings that contain MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) have been linked to migraines, liver inflammation, allergic reactions and memory issues.
So, for smoked meat, it is best to use a minimal amount of artificial seasonings. Moreover, if possible, stick to natural herbs and spices.
Use the Right Wood Type
As already mentioned, there are many types of woods to use as fuel for the smoking process. While some types are preferred because of their remarkable flavor, others are less safe.
Avoid wood from conifers as they contain high levels of turpenes. When used for smoking meat it can give a funny taste and even make you sick. This includes, pine, cyprus, fir, spruce, redwood and cedar.
Hickory and poplar produce a smaller amount of harmful chemicals than most of the others.
In conclusion, there is no denying that smoked meat is one of the best things to happen to the taste buds of humanity. At the same time, the process of smoking meat may make it undeniably harmful.
There is no way to totally eliminate the production of carcinogens during this process. So, the most we can do is try to reduce the dangers to our health by following safety guidelines.
Also, as hard as it might be, it is helpful to reduce how frequently we consume smoked meat.
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