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Processed meats can ruin your health |14 April 2022

Processed meats can ruin your health

Processed meat refer to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation.

Depending on preparations, processed meat can include salami, ham, bacon, pastrami, luncheon meat, corned beef and some sausages.

Processed meat can do serious harm

Eating too much processed meat can seriously damage your health.

And sadly that includes the Corned Beef, Luncheon Meat and Cocktail Sausages that we grew up loving.
Processed meats are usually deprived of essential nutrients but are high in energy, salt, saturated and trans fat. They often contain preservatives and other chemicals to make them last longer and to improve their texture and flavour.

A number of studies have found links between processed meat and various forms of cancer, as well as heart disease and diabetes.


How processed meat increase cancer risk

The World Health Organisation has classified processed meats including ham, bacon, salami and hotdogs and burgers as a Group 1 Carcinogen (known to cause cancer). 

Current research shows that there are certain chemicals in processed meats – both added and naturally occurring – that cause these foods to be carcinogenic. 

For example, when a chemical in processed meat called Haem is broken down in the gut, they form chemicals that can damage the cells that line the bowel, which can increase the risk of bowel cancer. 

In addition, preservatives like nitrites used to preserve processed meats can react with proteins at high temperatures to form N-nitroso compounds that increase a person’s risk of bowel cancer. This is usually common when a person chars or burns processed meat under a hot grill or on a barbecue.

Did you know if you’ve had cancer, maintaining a healthy diet can help prevent it from coming back? It is therefore best to eliminate processed meat from your diet.

Reduce your processed meat intake

It is best to cut out processed meats altogether or keep them to an absolute minimum as a way of reducing your cancer risk.

Follow our 'Eat for Our Health' recommendations and opt for a balanced diet, loaded with healthy vegetables, fruits, tubers and legumes, with moderate amounts of eggs, local fish and chicken spread out throughout the week.

Some cooking tips

Swap the processed meat that you would usually use in your sandwiches or main dishes such as ham, bacon or salami with tinned tuna, eggs, lean chicken, beans or vegetables.

Consider the possibility of having one meat-free meal per week. For example, a vegetable curry, or a vegetable sauce with pasta or soup.
Exploring the possibility of a predominantly plant-based diet, can be also be a good option.

Just look at our amazing local vegetables and fruits and think of how you can use them in imaginative ways, by flavouring them naturally with herbs and spices.

Try a vegetable burger, vegetable lasagne, or search the web for wonderful vegetarian cuisines around the world, and adapt them using local Creole flavours.

However, if you don’t eat any meat or other animal foods, it is important to ensure that you are getting enough protein, Vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids.
To stay in your healthy track please follow us on Facebook at Eat for our Health Seychelles and on Instagram @eat4ourhealth, and write to us to with any questions.


Yours in health

The E4OH Team



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