The first step is to understand what the four main issues are with these foods, to then look at alternatives:
The Problem: Processed meat is a meat that has been salted, smoked, cured or preserved in any way to increase its shelf life or improve taste. Chemicals that are known or suspected carcinogens are found in processed meat.
The Solution: Find a local butcher and ask for preservative-free sausages. Many products that are mass produced for supermarkets are packed with added preservatives for longer shelf life. You can still freeze unprocessed sausages and you will feel safe in the knowledge that no hidden nasties have been added to them.
High cooking temperatures
The Problem: Pan frying, grilling, barbequing and direct contact with a flame produce more carcinogenic chemicals in meat (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic aromatic amines).
The Solution: Avoid over cooking at high temperatures. Slow-oven cook or even poach your meat at lower temperatures. If you like your steak well-done, you may want to reconsider this next time you are eating out…
All red meat contains a damaging component: Haem
The Problem: Haem, a component of red meat, is broken down in the gut and forms N-nitroso compounds. These appear to damage cells in the bowel, resulting in increased cell replication to heal. This increases the chance of errors developing in cells DNA – the first step of cancer formation.
The Solution: Minimize consumption of red meat per week. Consider going veggie a few nights of the week. Replace meat by bulking out meals with beans and pulses.
The Problem: Red and processed meat is typically high in saturated fat – high consumption of this type of fat is linked to many types of cancer as well as heart disease.
The Solution: Chicken, turkey and fish are lower in saturated fat compared with red or processed meats and are still a great source of protein. Beans and pulses are a great alternative to meat to bulk out meals.
The WHO was quick to stress the health benefits of eating red meat, explaining that it is a valuable source of proteins, zinc, vitamin B12 and iron. Moderation is the key to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
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