Queenslanders are being urged to add more colour to their plates this week and swap meat for veggies to give their health a boost.
On average Australian adults eat more than 90kg of meat each year, including 42kg of poultry, 20kg of pork, 22kg of beef and 7kg of sheep.
This week for national Meat Free Week (September 18-24), Cancer Council Queensland is calling on people to put their diet under the grill and cut back on unhealthy meat options.
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Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said a diet high in fatty, red or processed meats could increase an individual’s risk of chronic disease and some cancers.
“Processed meat is classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans, meaning there is convincing evidence that agents in the meat can increase the risk of colorectal cancer,” she said.
“While evidence does not support complete abstinence from red meat, it does highlight the benefits of eating more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.
“There are also plenty of non-meat options such as legumes that provide many of the same nutrients as meat and are a great alternative.
“When selecting red meats, opt for lean red meats and trim visible fat, and avoid highly processed, fatty options that are high in sodium.
“Lean red meat forms part of a healthy diet and is a source of iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and protein, but heavily processed meat is nutrient poor by comparison.”
“For a simple meal guide, stick to 50 per cent veggies, 25 per cent protein and 25 per cent wholegrain carbohydrates for a healthy, balanced meal.”
Ms McMillan said as summer approached, now was the perfect time to freshen up your diet and set the menu for the coming months.
“Queenslanders should consume no more than 3-4 serves (less than 400g) of lean red meat a week, and where possible avoid processed meats,” she said.
“It’s recommended that adults also eat five serves of vegetables a day, and two serves of fruit. Alarmingly just seven per cent of Queensland adults eat sufficient vegetables.
“A serve of vegetables could be one cup of raw salad vegetables or half a cup of cooked pumpkin, and should be included in meals to add vitamins, minerals and fibre to the diet.”
More than 27,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer each year – up to one third of those cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes, including maintaining a healthy diet.
For more information about Cancer Council Queensland and healthy eating, visit cancerqld.org.au or phone 13 11 20.