A sandwich with a few slices of deli meat is a cheap and quick lunchbox staple. But heath authorities warn against the regular consumption of processed meats due to the increased risk of certain cancers.
Get the lowdown from Nutritionist Jessica Clayden on why processed meats should be skipped, and discover delicious homemade alternatives which are surprisingly quick and easy to make in your Thermomix.
All that salt
It’s probably no surprise that cured meats like chorizo and ham have an eye-bulgingly high amount of sodium, but even non-cured meats like turkey and chicken are usually packed full of sodium which is used as a preservative. For example, chicken luncheon meat has around 800mg per serving, which is half of our recommended daily intake (1500 – 2000mg)!
Make your own tip: By making your own luncheon meats at home you can control the amount of salt going into your food. In our recipes we also use herbs and spices to add flavour, which helps to reduce the sodium content.
And the fat
A 2010 study showed that regularly eating processed meats can increase the risk of heart disease by 42%. If consuming processed foods opt for lean proteins like turkey and chicken over fatty cuts like salami, chorizo and bacon.
Make your own tip: Our Honey and Herb Pork Loin uses a lean cut of pork.
Increased cancer risk
The World Health Organisation classifies processed meats (bacon, sausages, deli meats etc.) as carcinogenic, meaning they are now considered a leading cause of cancer. In fact, eating just 50g of processed meat each day increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18%. Two of the chemicals linked to the increased risk of bowel cancer are added to processed meats during the manufacturing process. By making your own with good quality and preferably organic meat you can greatly reduce or omit these chemicals. Another, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Reduce your consumption of HCAs and PAHs by using gentle cooking methods like steaming, stewing and sautéing on lower temperatures.
So what do I eat instead?
Add steamed chicken, eggs or salmon to your salad or sandwiches instead of deli meat. Canned salmon and tuna are also great alternatives to use in moderation. Check out our recipe for Pre-ahead layered chicken, eggs or salmon for an easy guide on how to get prepared for lunch boxes in one easy step.