With recent newspaper stories citing processed meat as a cause of cancer, anyone might have thought twice about taking another bite of their bacon butty. But look behind the scary headlines, and you’ll see you can still enjoy eating meat as part of a balanced diet.
October’s biggest health story was the news that a World Health Organisation study had labelled processed meat such as bacon, salami and sausages a Group 1 carcinogen – placing it alongside smoking as a definite cause of cancer. This has made lots of people worried, but it’s important to understand that enjoying sausage and mash or a full English breakfast every now and then is nowhere near as bad for you as smoking – and as well as providing protein and other essential nutrients, will actually do you little harm at all.
Should you stop eating red and processed meat completely?
When frightening sounding food stories come out, they often boil down to the old saying: everything in moderation. So while it’s definitely a good idea not to eat steak and sausages every day of the week, there’s no need to completely give them up as long as they’re part of a balanced diet. Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so if Roast Beef Dinner or Spaghetti Bolognese are among your favourites, treating yourself every once in a while is absolutely fine.
We all know that stopping smoking is one of the best things we can do for our health. But giving up eating processed and red meat isn’t going to hugely reduce your (already quite small) chances of getting bowel cancer. What’s more, red meat also has many health benefits, such as being a good source of iron, protein and essential micronutrients like zinc.
However, cutting back on the amount you eat – especially if you eat more than the guideline daily amounts – is a good idea. That’s because processed meats often include high levels of salt, and both processed and red meat can contain saturated fat. Too much of these can cause health problems such as obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which can increase your chances of heart disease and strokes.
An easy way to cut back
Even if you eat meat with most of your meals, you won’t have to sacrifice flavour to enjoy a healthier diet. Instead of a bacon sandwich for breakfast, swap to scrambled or poached eggs or even a warming porridge pot, which is full of slow-releasing energy. If you often put ham in your lunchtime sandwich, why not try chicken or tuna instead. Or tuck into a bowl of hearty soup – just the thing for the colder weather.
And when it comes to dinnertime, our wide range of home delivered ready meals means the choices are almost endless. They’re all made with great quality, kitchen cupboard ingredients, and all include clear dietary symbols – ideal if you’re following a special diet or watching your weight.
Choose fish or poultry dishes more often than red meat, sausages or gammon, accompanied with plenty of nutrient-rich veggies. Dishes that include spinach or beans and pulses, such as our Smoked Haddock Florentine or our Mini Turkey & Bean One Pot, will make sure you don’t miss out on essential iron and protein.
To sum up:
- Aim to eat no more than 50g of processed meat (that’s two rashers of bacon) a day
- Swap red and processed meats for healthier alternatives such as fish, poultry and iron- and protein-rich beans and pulses for most of your meals
If you have any questions about our range, give us a call on 0845 643 2009. We’ll be happy to help.