Tag Archives: red meat and cancer

Nitrates, nitrites and eating sausages.

There has been so much talk about red meat over the last few years. The guidelines from the WHO told us not to eat too much red meat and showed the link between red meat and colorectal cancer. This risk was higher with processed red meat. Today it’s been more news about processed meat causing cancer, so as a population we are still eating our bacon it seems.

The problem this time is nitrates (NO3) and nitrites (NO2). These are often added to processed meats as they help it keep its pink colour and are important in food safety – protecting against botulism. Nitrates are metabolised to nitrites in the body, these are all fine until they combine with protein to form Nitrosamines. These can be carcinogenic. There lies the problem.

However nitrates themselves can be beneficial, they can relax blood vessels, being beneficial for blood pressure. They can improve the blood flow to muscles in exercise and they are a cofactor for reactions in the body.

Nitrates are found in processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami and chorizo. Interestingly they don’t seem to be added into UK made sausages, which is a slight win. They are also found added into higher amounts in smoked fish, cured fish and beer (especially German beer). The levels in your piece of ham are small. Nitrates are also found in vegetables however these naturally occuring forms do not appear to react in the body in the same way as those added into meats.

The take home – eating less meat is a good thing for the planet and for our bodies, but there is no need to cut it out entirely. In my opinion cutting things out is generally not a helpful approach. Processed meat is not something to be eating daily but it is ok to eat it occasionally. You can find some processed meats now that are nitrate free, check the labels nitrate/nitrites, but remember that does not mean you can eat it regularly. As a population we all should be eating less meat and more plant based proteins when we can. So keep that bacon sandwich for a now and again brekkie. 

                              

 

 

Filming – it’s a wrap “Good Enough to Eat”

This weekend has been busies that usual as I was asked to take part in some filming for a BBC2 new show. So as a family we travelled up early Saturday morning to the Chicago Rib Shack in Twickenham. 

Dietitian UK: Filming for Good Enough to Eat

Filming for me is something I quite enjoy and when done in a relaxed manner is quite easy and natural to do. See my top tips below if you are getting involved in any filming work.

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1. Do your research before hand. Find out what they want you to talk about, in what style and are there are key messages they would like you to convey. From this you can draft out your ideas or come up with a rough script.

2. Take a few outfits with you in case your first choice is not suitable!

3. Don’t expect it to be all glitz and glamour. You will probably have to do your own hair and make up and there can be quite a bit of standing around and waiting.

4. TV work is not usually well paid 😉

I spent 30 minutes talking, pointing and gesticulating towards a pile of red meat. What was great about this work was the opportunity to get a message out about red meat in a positive light, after the bad press.

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My top points were:

1. Red meat is fine to eat as part of a healthy. balanced diet and I would encourage it. It is all about that word “moderation” once again. The guidance is we can eat 500g uncooked weight of red meat a week, so think about having it 2-3 times a week.

2. Protein, iron, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and vitamin D are all nutrients found in red meat.

3. Red meat can actually help with some health conditions such as anaemia. It contains haem iron which is easier for the body to absorb and use than non-haem iron in plant proteins.

(This show won’t be aired until Spring 2016).