You’ve probably heard that cold cuts or sandwich meats aren’t the healthiest options of meat products, but technically, they are meat and some of you may be wondering if they are Paleo permitted. While the Paleo diet focuses on foods that could be hunted and gathered, it also places emphasis on the quality of food and whether or not it has the nutrients and health benefits you desire from your foods. Cold cuts are often the gummy, extremely salty, round shaped and thin sliced meat that looks nothing like the way meat should look. However, that’s how the cheap quality of cold cuts are described, and you may be wondering if the same can be said for those items that are of higher quality. For example, you can find some pre-wrapped cold cuts in the refrigerated section that also offers medium quality of cheese slices (cheese isn’t Paleo). These are a bit pricey and include ‘meats’ such as slimy chicken, rubbery ham, cheap turkey and other slimy, unappetizing meats.You may still be wondering about the highest quality of cold cuts, or if all qualities are created equal.
There Are Better Options
Due to the process and preservatives often packed into cheap and medium quality cold cuts, it is safe to say that they aren’t Paleo because there really isn’t much meat in them to begin with. However, there are some better alternatives to the mass marketed luncheon meats and despite such products having a higher price, you are receiving a higher quality product, and more importantly, real meat. You get what you pay for. Such items require you to go to the counter, place an order and instead of leaving with cold cuts wrapped in plastic, they typically get served to you in a brown paper bag. Unfortunately, some major grocery stores don’t even offer such high quality items and you typically have to go to a natural food store or a butcher.
The Highest Quality of Cold Cuts
With the previous being said, the highest quality of cold cuts that you can receive in paper bags are typically derived from turkey, cow or pig – or in other words, made with real meat. Depending on the cut, it can have streaks of fat and these cuts are usually cooked. Some popular kinds include; real ham, pastrami, roast beef, roasted turkey etc. It can get pretty expensive, but if you need to have cold cuts, then these are the best options that are technically ‘Paleo‘.
The Cured Cold Cuts
You also have traditionally cured meats such as; pepperoni, salami, prosciutto etc .and like the cheaper cold cut options, cured cold cuts are also made up of random bits and pieces of animals (trimmings, faces and so much more). Cured cold cuts are typically eaten cold, and although they’re meats, they aren’t very Paleo due to the cured process since it is the process of food preservation and flavoring which is done on some meats, fish and vegetables by adding a mixture of salt, nitrite, nitrates or sugar. On the contrary, some of the highest quality of salamis are cured for months and sometimes even years but often use small amounts of basic seasoning which keeps it as Paleo as possible since the cheaper versions use ab abundance of random seasoning blends, ingredients and other who-knows kind-of-ingredients.
Is it Paleo?
It is very rare that the “Is it Paleo” question can be answered with a blunt yes or no. If you took the time to read the previous information, you can certainly understand why this is the case. Many people do believe that cold cuts are a monstrosity of mankind – or in other words, the modern world ruined a good thing which seems to be like an ongoing trend within the food industry. If you were to seriously look at the majority of cold cuts out there and truly pay attention to the texture and the way it jiggles, feels and even smells – you probably would be able to answer the “Is it Paleo” question yourself.
However, since there are so many varieties of cold cuts, it isn’t such an easy answer. Obviously, the cheaper brands are completely out of the question. This includes preserved, not-real-food, fake meat items such as hotdogs and other similar products. Sure. They’re meat but barely. Even cured meats aren’t 100% Paleo as they are cured which is a process of preservation through the use of non Paleo seasonings. They are healthier alternatives but if you are strict to the Paleo guidelines and want a straight forward answer as to whether cold cuts are Paleo, then no.
Cold cuts are not Paleo.
In moderation, the highest quality of cold cuts would be okay, but they certainly aren’t something that you want to include in your family member’s lunches day in and day out.
Alternatives for Cold Cuts
The best meat products that you can use as alternatives for cold cuts is all about using real meats. Leftover chicken, turkey, ham and other meat products are perfect for alternative options. It may not be as nice and tidy as cold cuts, but it’s healthy and ‘real’.
As a general rule of thumb, it is always best to go fresh. It’s the only 100% Paleo way. Processed foods, even cured meat, simply aren’t ancestral or completely healthy, and if you are going to go through the diet transition then you might as well do it to the best of your ability – or the Paleo diet’s ability, rather.