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Nutrition Tips: Shoud I Eat Meat?

Meredith Byrne, RD, CSO, LDN

As an oncology dietitian, I am commonly asked, “Should I eat meat?” Research has shown us that eating high amounts of red meat (pork, beef, lamb, and goat), as well as processed meat, can increase the risk of some cancers. At this time, it is recommended to consume no more than 11oz of red meat per week and to rarely eat processed meat. What is processed meat? By common definition, processed meat means that it has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or adding chemical preservatives.

Following are processed meats: deli/lunch meats, corned beef, pepperoni, salami, hot dogs, ham, sausage and bacon.

How do we limit the amount of processed and red meat in our diet?

  • At meals, choose plant-based proteins such as kidney, pinto, lentil, black beans, peas, nuts and seeds instead of meat.
  • Experiment with meatless options such as tofu or hummus on a sandwich.
  • Instead of bacon or sausage with your breakfast, choose Greek yogurt or egg whites for protein.
  • Replace the pepperoni or sausage on your pizza with a vegetable.
  • Purchase fresh, whole cuts of lean meat such as boneless, skinless chicken breast.
  • Try tuna or a sliced piece of roasted chicken on your sandwich instead of deli meat.
  • Replace deli meat in a chef salad with beans, nuts or a piece of baked fish.
  • At cookouts, choose chicken, if it is available, instead of a hot dog. Enjoy side dishes such as baked beans, fresh fruit and pasta salad instead of a second piece of meat.
  • If you do choose to purchase lunch meats, have the deli slice them for you behind the counter instead of purchasing them vacuum-packed.

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