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. Processed meats include 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.
One way to help your family limit their intake of processed meats is to keep them out of the lunch box.
Instead of using ham or other processed meats on sandwiches, wraps and salads try:
- BBQ chicken with skin removed
- Canned tuna or salmon
- Boiled eggs
- Leftover home-cooked meat such as slices of roast
- Home cooked rissoles
- More sandwich filling ideas
Instead of using ham or other processed meats on pizzas try:
- Grilled vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant, tomato, capsicum
- View this video on how to make quick and easy Mediterranean Scrolls
Instead of packing salami or cabanossi as snacks try:
- Cheese and crackers
- Curried eggs
- Dips and vegetable sticks
- More healthy snack ideas
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.