Incorporating lunch meats in your diet!

Feb 10, 2016

EricBergContributing Author: Eric P. Berg, Professor in Meat-Animal Sciences, North Dakota State University

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 recommends consumption of lean meat as part of an overall healthy diet and the USDA’s MyPlate ( recommends daily consumption from the meat and beans group spanning 2 to 6.5 ounce equivalents depending on age, gender, and physical activity. Meat is an important source of high quality protein as well as iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. Furthermore the bioavailability of iron and folate from meat is higher than from grains and leafy green vegetables. Lunch meats (precooked or cured meats sliced for sandwiches or salad toppings) could serve as a convenient and effective LunchMeatmeans of meeting the RDA of several macro- and micro-nutrients. The objective of this study was to examine the association of lunch meat consumption with nutrient intake, diet quality, and physiological measures in children (age 2 – 18 years) and adults (> 19 years) using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2007-2010. Lunch meat consumers were defined as individuals who consumed any amount of lunch meat during a 24-h recall. Diet quality (calculated using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) – 2010) was compared across lunch meat consumers and non-consumers.  Children who consumed lunch meats ate more meat/poultry/fish and whole grain and less added sugar than non-consumers.  Adult lunch meat consumers ate more meat/poultry/fish, whole grain, dairy, and total grains and less vegetables than non-consumers.  There was no difference in dietary quality (HEI – 2010) between lunch meat consumers and non-consumers.  Furthermore, there were no differences in body weight, waist circumference, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose fasting plasma insulin, C-reactive protein, fasting triglycerides, cholesterol (total, LDL, HDL), or apolipoprotein B between lunch meat consumers or non-consumers at any age. These data suggest the potential for lunch meat inclusion in healthy dietary patterns.

Click here to read the full manuscript published in the Nutrition Journal. 

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