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5. Eat less red meat and avoid processed meat

A closer look at the recommendations for reducing your overall cancer risk

  • Limit lean red meat intake to 18 ounces (about 2 & 1⁄4 cups) or less of cooked meat each week
  • Avoid processed meat

What is red meat?

Pork, beef and lamb are considered red meats. Dishes made with red meats include Shepherd's pie, chili, burritos, tacos, meat pies, hamburgers and kabobs.

What is processed meat?

Processed meats have been preserved by smoking, curing, or salting or adding preservatives, such as ham, bologna, bacon, salami, pancetta, prosciutto, hot dogs and sausages.

Why limit red meat and processed meat?

There is convincing evidence that eating higher amounts of red and processed meats increases colorectal cancer risk. The process (smoking, curing) and additives (preservatives, salt) used to preserve meats can form cancer causing agents. Red and processed meats are also higher in energy-density which may lead to weight gain, a risk factor for breast cancer. People who eat more red meat and processed meats tend to eat fewer vegetables and fruit and they may miss out on the cancer protective properties of these plant foods.

Learn more about reducing your intake of red meat and saturated fats here.

How can you eat less red meat?

  • Choose meat alternatives (beans, lentils, tofu) more often
  • Fill 2/3 or more of your plate with plant-foods (vegetables, fruits, whole- grains, legumes) and 1/3 animal foods (cheese, meat, fish, poultry, milk)
  • Use ground chicken, turkey, beans or vegetables instead of red meat
  • Substitute "meaty" textured vegetables, such as portabella mushrooms and eggplant slices instead of red meat