The latest research shows that having more than 18 ounces of red meat like beef, pork, and lamb per week (about 2.5 ounces per day) can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Similarly, any portion of processed meat, such as ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, sausage, bratwurst, frankfurters, or pepperoni, will also raise your risk. That's because carcinogens can form when meat is smoked, cured, or salted, or when preservatives such as nitrates are added. "Sure you can have an occasional hot dog at a baseball game," Collins says, "but it shouldn't be a regular habit."
Fish and chicken are better options but should still be considered accessories to your diet. Roast or bake fish, chicken or red meat whenever possible. Meat that is fried, grilled, barbecued, or broiled, and cooked to 400 degrees or more, or over a direct flame, can form a chemical on its surface that may pose a cancer risk.
Use the weekends to plan menus, shop, prep produce, and batch-cook healthy meals so they're good to go. "To eat healthier, you have to make it a priority. Think ahead and have the food on hand," says Katherine Tallmadge, R.D., author of Diet Simple (LifeLine Press) and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.