For hundreds of years, a giant roast turkey and leg of ham has been a tradition for many families on the Christmas table.
What many people don’t realise, is that although ham comes from a pig, it’s not fresh fillet or pork, but it is actually classified as a processed meat.
Ham, alongside bacon and salami, is classified in the “discretionary” or “extras” category of the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Right next to foods such as hot chips, ice cream and chocolate.
In 2016, the World Health Organisation classified these processed meats as group 1 carcinogens. Meaning, that they don’t have a “probable” link with cancer, but that there is a mountain of evidence directly linking eating processed meats to cause cancer.
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Now whether you eat meat regularly or not, is a personal choice. I'm not here to tell you what to eat, but provide you with the latest evidence and research in nutrition. But leading health authorities such as the Cancer Council, the Heart Foundation and the National Health and Media Research Council all agree on one thing, we should aim to reduce our intake of meat and increase our intake of fruits, vegetables and plant based proteins.
So take a tip from your friendly dietitian this Christmas, and bulk up your Christmas meal with an array of fresh salads, legumes and roast vegetables.
Kiah Paetz is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and founder of Plant Nutrition and Wellness. She is available for private consultations at her Brisbane City and North Lakes clinics.