High potassium foods are desirable because of the health benefits they provide. Populations taking 3 times as much potassium as sodium have lower blood pressure, fewer cardiovascular diseases, fewer strokes, less osteoporosis, and fewer kidney stones. Those who take in more sodium than the recommended 1.5 gm have a much harder time reaching the ratio. Eating one serving of many of the luncheon meats or sausages gives more than half the recommended sodium for the day.
Many of the sausages and luncheon meats are low potassium foods, so they have a very low potassium to sodium ratio. Even those that are among the moderate potassium foods have a very poor ratio. For those wanting the health benefits of high potassium foods, sausages and luncheon meats are best avoided or only eaten in small amounts of less than one serving in a day.
Meats other than sausages and luncheon meats have to be examined for their sodium content also. Although the meats that are fresh will have a good potassium to sodium ratio, many meats are injected with sodium to give a longer shelf life. Always check the sodium content of any meats that are packaged.
Another aspect of sausage and luncheon meat that affects health is the high fat content. All but a handful of the meats have more than half their calories come from fat, with a large portion from saturated fat. The leaner cuts of meat and poultry are not used for these prepared meats.
There are a great many additives in meat and poultry products. For the most part, they are safe. Only a few additives that were originally thought safe were later found problematic. Some were later found to be carcinogenic, such as Violet No. 1, once used to stamp the USDA inspection grade on beef.
Many of the common additives contain sodium, thus contributing to the increased sodium content of some meats and poultry, especially the packaged meats and poultry. Some, such as sodium caseinate, are used as binders to hold together meats such as frankfurters and other luncheon meats. Sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite are used as color fixatives to maintain the color of the meat. Some are used for flavor enhancement and moisture retention such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the sodium salts of various phosphates (called “phosphates” on food labels). More information on food additives can be found at:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/additives-in-meat-and-poultry-products/additives-in-meat-and-poultry-products and http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm115326.htm.