Spam is a brand of precooked and canned meat mixture made by Hormel Foods Corporation. It’s a processed meat that tastes like roasted ham. It contains processed pork, but that is the only ingredient that in any way resembles a delicious ham. Now you may wonder: is Spam bad for you?
Is Spam Bad for You?
Yes, spam is very bad for you. It is something that you should eat only occasionally and in moderation, if at all.
Spam’s Effects on Health
In order to ensure that the product has a decent shelf life, the manufacturer includes a large amount of chemical preservatives. One of these preservatives is called sodium nitrate.
Sodium nitrate has a very detrimental effect on the human body. It is believed to create a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and blood vessel damage. It might also put children at greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Spam also has alarmingly high levels of cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium. There are 790 mg of sodium in just a single serving of Spam! There is so much sodium in Spam that if you overindulge you may experience noticeable effects of excessive sodium consumption, including stomach cramps, water retention, swelling, and dizziness. The cholesterol and saturated fat in Spam puts you at higher risk of weight gain, heart attack, and general inflammation. One serving of Spam has 16 grams of fat (6 grams of this is saturated fat).
If you eat Spam only occasionally, you still might suffer from certain short-term effects. These can include stomach cramps, swelling, water retention and dehydration, abdominal pain, edema, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. If you make the unwise choice of letting Spam be a part of your regular diet, you are putting yourself at risk for long-term effects such as
- Reduced flow of oxygen in the body
- Blood vessel damage
- Weight gain
- Diabetes in children
- Higher cholesterol levels
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart disease
A University of Hawaii study has found that eating processed meat such as Spam regularly can put you at 67 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer, one of the most dangerous forms of the disease.
Spam does offer a “Lite” version of the product, which the company says has 25 percent less sodium, 50 percent less fat, and 33 percent fewer calories than regular Spam. Preservatives like sodium nitrate and other alarming chemicals are still present, however, meaning that you Lite Spam can certainly never be considered a healthy food choice.
As we discussed earlier, there has been a link found between excessive consumption of sodium nitrate, a preservative, and the development of pancreatic cancer.
The pancreas is one of the organs found in the abdomen. It is situated behind your stomach’s lower half. The pancreas is important because it provides the body with enzymes needed to help regulate blood sugar and ensure digestion functions as it should.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer because it is less likely to be detected early and it spreads to other parts of the body particularly quickly. Diabetes can be a sign of this type of cancer. This is especially the case when weight loss, upper abdominal pain, and/or jaundice also occurs.
If you think that you could have symptoms of pancreatic (or any other) type of cancer, or think that you are at higher than average risk for any reason, make sure to talk to your doctor right away.
Heart disease (also referred to as cardiovascular disease) is an umbrella term that covers a variety of conditions. Many of these conditions are ones that can cause a heart attack or angina (chest pain), or a stroke.
Some symptoms of heart disease can include:
- pain in the back, upper abdomen, throat, neck, or even jaw
- coldness, weakness, numbness, and/or pain in the arms or legs (a symptom of narrowing of blood vessels)
- shortness of breath
- chest pressure, discomfort, tightness, and/or pain (angina)
Some people have heart disease without experiencing symptoms, do not seek treatment, and have an unexpected heart attack (or stroke) as a consequence. This is just one of many reasons why you should be extra careful to maintain your cardiovascular health throughout your life.
If you think that you might have any symptoms of heart disease or believe that you may be at risk generally, make sure to talk to your doctor. If you have angina or think you might be having a heart attack or stroke, seek emergency medical treatment.
Type 1 Diabetes in Children
This condition used to be referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes. With type 1 diabetes in children, the body ceases its production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to sustain human life.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children can include:
- Blurred vision
- Breath that has a fruity scent
- Yeast infections
- Change in behavior, such as irritability
- Weight loss
- Extreme hunger
- More frequent urination
- More frequent thirst
Children who have a family history of type 1 diabetes are at greater risk of developing this disease. Also, children of certain races tend to be at greater risk, as well. For example, non-Hispanic white children are more likely to develop it then other children in the United States.
Type 1 diabetes can cause many complications, such as:
- Skin conditions, like fungal and bacterial infections
- Damage to the eyes (this is because of damage to the retina’s blood vessels)
- Kidney damage (this is because of damage to clusters of tiny blood vessels)
- Nerve damage (this tends to be a particular problem in the legs). Pain, burning, numbness, and tingling can result.
- Blood vessel and heart disease (children who have type 1 diabetes can be at much higher than average risk of heart disease and related problems later in life).
Parents who suspect that their child might have type 1 diabetes must consult with a doctor for diagnosis immediately.
“Spam Nutrition Information”, http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/edible-innovations/spam-food1.htm
“Good for Your Wallet but Bad for Your Health”, https://www.learnvest.com/2011/10/good-for-your-wallet-bad-for-your-health-5-cheap-foods-to-avoid
“Pancreatic cancer”, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pancreatic-cancer/home/ovc-20268502
“Heart disease”, http://www.mayoclinic.org/home/ovc-20341555
“Type 1 diabetes in children”, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes-in-children/home/ovc-20311394