It is a common misconception that eating Paleo is just an excuse to eat straight meat, including sausage and bacon, 24/7. When you begin your Paleo path, you might start with plenty of lean chicken breasts and have a few extra slices of bacon since you can’t have pancakes. However, not all meat is the same, and the Paleo diet encourages you to eat the least processed meat possible. Hence: the problem with some grocery-store meats, including sausage. Is kielbasa Paleo?
What is Kielbasa?
If you have any kind of Polish background, you might have a lot to say about “kielbasa.” Technically it is just the Polish word for sausage, but the authentic polish smoked sausage is probably the style that first earned the name Kielbasa in the States when Polish immigrants arrived in America. Standard Polish Smoked Kielbasa is made from pork (often the shoulder), smoked over natural hardwood, and includes: salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, marjoram, and sodium nitrate.
…sodium nitrate? Well, technically it is a type of salt added to cured or processed meats as a preservative. It breaks down into sodium nitrite (an inorganic material considered toxic in large quantities) over the curing process. The problem is that once a meat containing nitrites is cooked over high heat (think: grilled, charred, etc.), compounds called nitrosamines are created, which are linked to a variety of diseases including: pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, and coronary obstructive pulmonary disease.
Is Kielbasa Paleo?
Well…sometimes. The biggest concern with Kielbasa and any other smoked meat is the presence of nitrites. However, we do understand that curing, smoking, and salting meats are completely natural and healthy parts of a balanced diet. Know your butcher, ask about preservatives, and when it comes to processed meat, always choose organic and nitrite-free. You can enjoy Kielbasa, as long as you read the labels.
Are you struggling with which foods are Paleo? Do you need help planning some Paleo meals? Check out this great Paleo cookbook: