The Public Health Agency (PHA) supports the research conducted by Harvard University which highlights the link between eating processed meat, such as sausages, bacon and ham, and an increased risk of heart disease. Nutrition is central to our health. Good nutrition in the early years can help protect against chronic diseases in later life. Jennifer McBratney, Registered Dietitian with the PHA, said: "Heart disease and cancer are Northern Ireland’s biggest killers and we know that poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute to both of these. The research making headlines today adds to the evidence already existing that processed meat products such as sausages, bacon and cooked ham, tend to have a higher proportion of salt and saturated fat compared to leaner meats, such as, chicken and fish. Diets high in salt and fat can impact on health by potentially raising blood pressure and body weight which increases the risk of heart disease. "Most people enjoy these foods but it is better to have them occasionally rather than on a regular basis. We often opt for processed meat products as they are quick, convenient and require little preparation, however, they are generally lower in protein and iron and higher in fat compared to lean red meat and poultry and can work out to be more expensive in the long run." The World Health Organization and World Cancer Research Fund research shows a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is protective against heart disease and stroke. To promote a healthier heart the PHA is encouraging everyone to: • increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in their diets and aim for 5 portions a day; • limit the amount of processed meat in their diet and include leaner cuts of meat meals; • try to have fish twice a week of which one should be an oily fish eg. salmon, mackerel, sardines; • reduce the total fat in their diet by using healthier cooking methods such as grilling and steaming; • reduce to the amount of salt we eat to no more than 6g per day; • keep active daily. For more information, helpful tips and recipe ideas please visit www.enjoyhealthyeating.info
Contact the PHA press office on 028 9031 1611.