Recent research shows a possible link between consuming processed meats and increased risk for developing many health problems such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Many health-conscious people are taking these potential health risks seriously and are making the effort to eliminate processed meats from their diet.
Processed meats are described as “any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives.” Processed meats include many food favorites such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage, bologna, salami, pepperoni, and other deli meats.
When taking into account all the preservatives, sodium, flavor enhancers and other additives contained in processed meats, it should be a no-brainer to cut back on them, but it isn’t always that easy. Many people don’t want to give processed meats up – they can be quite tasty, they are not all that expensive and they are very convenient when you want a hearty breakfast or need a quick sandwich for school or work.
Whatever your reasons for consuming processed meats, consider these tasty, inexpensive and convenient substitutes that are so much more healthy for you:
1. Substitute that processed breakfast sausage or bacon with scrambled eggs or an omelet loaded with mushrooms or other veggies. If you want some meat, add in a little non-processed ham for that extra yummy flavor.
2. Over the weekend, cook up a chicken, turkey, pork roast, ham or meat loaf. Serve your family a delicious meal and then use the leftovers for sandwich meat, casseroles and soups. In the long run, a little extra cooking on the weekend will prove less expensive, more healthy and just as convenient as buying processed meats.
3. When ordering pizza, skip the pepperoni and sausage and go with veggies, chicken, ground beef and other non-processed favorites. When ordering a grinder, skip the deli meats and choose a grilled chicken or veggie grinder instead.
4. If you have access to a microwave or stove at work, when making up a soup, stew or casserole at home, freeze some of the leftovers in lunch-size containers. Grab one on your way out the door and you will enjoy a healthy, hearty lunch with absolutely no processed meats.
5. Additional easy, healthy substitutes for processed meats include fruit, salads, tuna and other sea foods, yogurt and any sandwich or wrap filled with anything you like that isn’t processed. Be careful with your snacks also – avoid the cheese and pepperoni and opt for more healthy choices.
Once you set your mind to it, cutting back, even eliminating processed meats from your diet is not all that difficult. When buying food, always read package labels carefully and avoid processed meats as much as possible. The options for healthy substitutes are numerous and just as delicious and easy to prepare as processed meats.