Red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and can form part of a balanced diet.
But people who eat a lot of red meats (beef, lamb, pork) and processed meats (bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham) over a long period have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Intake of 160g or more/day of these meats increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Eating poultry and fish does not have this effect. The possible culprits in the above foods can maybe the preservatives used, the smoke residue or the method of preparation and the high temperatures used for cooking. Processed and grilled red meat may activate receptors at the intestinal epithelial surface and triggers the inflammations in the colon, resulting in colorectal cancer.
Here are a few tips that you can follow to reduce the consumption of red meat in your diet:
- Swap out red meat in your sandwich and burgers with slices of chicken or turkey. For a meat-free burger, use black beans or soy.
- Replace processed meat such as ham, bacon, prosciutto or pepperoni with chicken, mushrooms, eggplant, tomato, capsicum, baked beans or cheese.
- Swap eggs and yogurt for processed breakfasts meats, such as bacon or sausage.
- Add beans and lentils to soups and stews for texture and protein.
- Try vegan meats. For example, use soy and add vegetables for color, texture, and nutrients
- Instead of grilling, use lower-fat cooking methods such as steaming, poaching, stir-frying and pan-frying.
- Try lower temperature cooking methods such as slow roasting or microwaving.
Lean red meat can be an important source of iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and protein. In terms of cancer risk there is no reason to cut red meat completely from your diet, but by limiting the amount you eat, and choosing the grass fed or pasture raised lean meat instead of high fat meat, you can reduce your risk of cancer.
Other steps to lower the risk of colon cancer include maintaining healthy body weight, not smoking, getting regular exercise and routine cancer screening.