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Healthy alternatives to ham

Date: April 18, 2024
Time to read: 2.5 min
Published in:

We know that ham is a lunch box staple for many families, however, Cancer Council recommends that we try to avoid processed meats because of their link with increasing the risk of bowel and stomach cancer.  Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in Australia. 

What is processed meat?

Processed meat is meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or by adding preservatives nitrates or nitrites.  Processed meat includes ham, devon, bacon, salami, frankfurts, prosciutto and some sausages such as cabanossi and kransky.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines also say these foods are ‘discretionary’, like cakes and biscuits, so should only be eaten sparingly.  However, in NSW 10% of children eat processed meats daily and 50% eat them one to two times per week.

To reduce your cancer risk make processed meat an occasional food only and not a regular choice.

What are some healthy alternatives?

One way to help your family limit their intake of processed meats is to keep them out of the lunch box.

Sandwich swaps

Instead of using ham or other processed meats on sandwiches, wraps and salads try:

Snack swaps

Instead of packing salami or cabanossi as snacks try:

Meal swaps

Instead of using ham or other processed meats on pizzas try:

There is an increasing range of ‘natural’ hams and bacons with no added preservatives or nitrites/nitrates.  These products are still high in salt so should only be eaten occasionally.

Read more about meat and cancer 


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