As I get older, I am becoming more health-aware. Not rabidly so - more like a ‘research phase’ at the moment. Thus I am wondering about the health implications of eating a lot of smoked products. I only smoke fish (generally considered a healthy food), but I am wondering about the various things found in smoked foods that are viewed as harmful. I have looked online, and there are three things that seem to be mentioned as potential negatives: phosphates, nitrates or nitrites, and “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons”.
- Phosphates seem to be things a person may or may not add to the process, and thus are entirely controllable. They also seem to be the least worrisome from a health perspective, but given that I don’t feel the need to use them I will just avoid them.
- Nitrates or nitrites seem to be things created through the salting/smoking process itself, and thus unavoidable in smoked foods. I have read on some sites that they ‘are added’ to smoked products, but most references indicate that they are a natural byproduct of the smoking process.
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons seem to also be a byproduct of the smoking process, but apparently are somewhat controllable with the temperature of the overall process (ie. cold-smoking produces less PAH than hot smoking). The kind of wood also seems to have some influence. Don't know much about these, but some sources note them as the biggest health concern.
I am wondering if the above info is accurate. I know ‘everything in moderation’ is a pretty common sense rule, but when I smoke a load of fish there is very little that is moderate about my consumption. I tend to dip into the fridge quite a bit and probably consume far more than what non-smokers would think of as a ‘moderate’ amount.
Not trying to be a downer. I plan to eat this stuff for a long time (and I feed it to my kids), so I just want to make sure I have accurate info, and am doing whatever is reasonable to make my “smoking-habit” as healthy as possible.