We all want to make good, healthy food choices. But the advice can be contradictory and it also seems that no matter what we eat, there is something about it that is bad for our health – or that’s how it feels!
This is certainly true of processed meat. The national cuisine has, for centuries, been ‘meat, potatoes and two veg’. Accustomed to and familiar with this daily plate of food, it is a bitter pill to swallow that we should be eating less processed meat.
Government advice is that we should be cutting down to 70g of cooked, processed meat a day. In other words, instead of two juicy bangers for your breakfast, cut down to one. Or the next time you make spaghetti bolognese, use less mince and add more vegetables.
What is ‘processed meat’?
What can make life more difficult when it comes to making healthy food choices is not being clear on what processed meat is.
It is the meat products we have come to enjoy and have usually gone through some kind of preparation process before it reaches the shelves of the supermarkets. Tinned meat is one such product, for example, along with sausages, salami and hot dogs. To see the full list, take a look at the infographic below.
Why is processed meat not the healthiest of choices?
In order to process and package the meat, it will go through various stages of preparation and have additives added to it to make it last longer but also look more appetising when we prepare, cook and eat it.
Processed meat has been linked to chronic diseases. For example, a high consumption of processed meat has been linked with heart disease, high blood pressure, COPD and some cancers too.
As well as containing various compounds, salt is often added. Salt is used to ‘cure’ meat, taking out some of the water so that it lasts longer. When we rehydrate it, like grilling or frying bacon, we concentrate this salt even more.
Excessive salt intake is known to be linked to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Whilst a little bit of bacon is no bad thing, what we don’t realise is just how much salt we have in our diet.
This is because salt is added to other foods stuffs and processed products, meaning we have much more than the few grams of salt we are advised to eat no more of each day.
What are the alternatives?
There are many ways to eliminate or cut down on processed meat in our diet including opting for grilled chicken and using the soya based alternative, tofu. Just cutting back on our processed meat consumption can help many people to deal to live a healthier lifestyle.
Have you cut back on processed meat? Did you find it easy to make the change?
Infographic created by HARTMANN Direct.