Skip to content
Government QLD, Medical Health Aged Care

Hamming it up: What’s the verdict on processed meat?

Health and Wellbeing Queensland 2 mins read
  • Ham is a source of protein and also contains iron
  • Eating too much ham can raise your risk of certain cancers
  • If choosing ham, go for options lower in salt and fat, and enjoy them occasionally rather than daily 

Ham is a popular sandwich filling, and picnics are perfect with prosciutto, but if processed meats are linked with increased health risks – should you bring home the bacon? 

Processed and cured meats are classified as discretionary foods under the Australian Dietary Guidelines because they can be high in added salt and saturated fats. 

Processed meats including ham, sausages, salami and hot dogs are also classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a ‘Group 1 carcinogen’ as research shows eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer. 

Health and Wellbeing Queensland Public Health Nutritionist and Dietitian Fiona Nave said as a meat, pork can be a healthy choice that is high in protein and rich in vitamins.  

'However, when pork is processed into ham it becomes a less healthy choice. That's because ham is made by curing or smoking and the addition of preservatives such as salt and sulphates', Ms Nave said.

'What often gets left out of the conversation is that most foods aren’t eaten in isolation but are part of a meal; a wholemeal bread sandwich made with ham, cheese, and a few vegetables like tomato, lettuce and cucumber can be a filling lunch that provides lots of nutrients our bodies need. 

‘But if you are worried about the health impacts associated with a processed food like ham, choose ham that is lower in salt, or swap with other lean proteins like chicken, roast meats or tinned fish, so that you are not eating it every day.'

The Australian Health Survey 2011-12 showed Australian adults eat more than 12 grams of processed meat per day on average, with men eating more than 50 per cent more processed meat than women. Ms Nave noted that studies have shown Australians eat more protein than they need, which can lead to weight gain. 

'We know that less than five per cent of Australian kids and adults eat enough vegetables daily. This means that most people’s plates of food at a mealtime are likely to include more meat than needed, which may contribute to weight gain and chronic diseases,’ she said. 

'Adding more vegetables into meals, including in sandwiches, is an easy way to balance your plate and is also likely to keep you fuller for longer, and potentially save money at the supermarket.'


About us:

Health and Wellbeing Queensland is the state's prevention agency. For more health and wellbeing news, visit hw.qld.gov.au.


Contact details:

Sarah Motherwell, Senior Media Advisor, Health and Wellbeing Queensland, 0439 599 210 or media@hw.qld.gov.au

More from this category

  • Disability, Medical Health Aged Care
  • 21/04/2024
  • 17:08
Heart of Health and Disability Conference and Awards

Heart of Health and Disability Unveils Exciting Lineup for Inaugural Conference

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA, APRIL 22, 2024—Heart Events is proud to announce the details of its highly anticipated conference and awards, scheduled for July 17th…

  • Contains:
  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 21/04/2024
  • 04:30
Dementia Australia

Join us TODAY for Ballarat Memory Walk & Jog

What: Dementia Australia’sBallarat Memory Walk & Jog When: Sunday 21 April, from 8am Who: More than 270 locals participating on the day. People who have been impacted by dementia, their family, friends and carers. Where: Lake Wendouree, Ballarat For more information visit: www.memorywalk.com.au Walk or jog with us. We are in this together. Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated more than 421,000 Australians living with dementia, and the more than 1.6 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people…

  • Contains:
  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 20/04/2024
  • 04:30
Dementia Australia

Join us TODAY for Bendigo Memory Walk & Jog

What: Dementia Australia’sBendigoMemory Walk & Jog When: Saturday 20 April, from 8am Who: More than 390 locals participating on the day. People who have been impacted by dementia, their family, friends and carers. Where: Bendigo Botanic Gardens, Bendigo For more information visit: www.memorywalk.com.au Walk or jog with us. We are in this together. Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated more than 421,000 Australians living with dementia, and the more than 1.6 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people…

  • Contains:

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.