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Which Meats Should You Avoid?

TIME Health
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It's a somber day for bacon lovers.

A World Health Organization (WHO) group declared on Monday that processed meat causes cancer and red meat "probably" does as well. But does that mean you should wholly abstain from hamburgers and hot dogs and confine yourself to the produce aisle of your local Whole Foods? Not necessarily. The report doesn't call for prohibitions on meats it considers carcinogenic, but it does urge caution when deciding what meats you eat, and how often.

Read more: Meat and Cancer: What You Should Know

So how best to play by the rules? The WHO group did define what it meant by red and processed meat and listed some examples, which should probably go on your list of meats to think twice about.

Processed meat refers to meat "that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation." The agency notes that most processed meats contain pork or beef and that they can also contain other types of red meat, poultry, offal and byproducts of meat like blood.

Per the WHO, that includes:

  • hot dogs
  • ham
  • sausages
  • corned beef
  • beef jerky
  • canned meat
  • meat-based preparations and sauces (e.g. certain kinds of Bolognese)

Red meat refers to all types of mammalian muscle meat, and includes the following:

  • beef
  • veal
  • pork (not the "other white meat" after all, apparently)
  • lamb
  • mutton
  • goat
  • horse

Fresh meat that wasn't mentioned directly by the agency is non-processed poultry and fish. Meats like fresh chicken and turkey have long been recommended as good sources of protein, and options to replace red or processed meat in the diet.

The silver lining for Americans is that even though your Christmas ham is on the no-no list, at least the star of the Thanksgiving gets a pass.

QUIZ: Should You Eat This or That?

Which is better for you: A 1/2 cup of ice cream or 3 scoops of sorbet?
Which is better for you: Half cup of ice cream or 3 scoops of sorbet?Getty Images (4)
Which is better for you: A 1/2 cup of ice cream or 3 scoops of sorbet?
Answer: A 1/2 cup of ice cream
Which is better for you: Real butter or spray on fake butter?
Answer: Butter
Which is better for you: A sirloin burger or a turkey burger?
Which is better for you: Almonds or pretzels?
Answer: Almonds
Which is better for you: Eggs or Special K?
Answer: Eggs
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Answer: Regular salad dressing
Which is better for you: A low fat cookie or dark chocolate?
Answer: Dark chocolate “People tend to believe fat free is calorie free,” says Keri Gans, a registered dietitian in New York City. “Go for the real thing.” Fat free cookies may be lower in fat, but higher in other ingredients like sugar. Try a nice piece of dark chocolate for those antioxidants.
Which is better for you: Low fat Greek yogurt or 100 calorie Yoplait yogurt?
Answer: Low fat Greek Yogurt
Which is better for you: Half cup of ice cream or 3 scoops of sorbet?
Getty Images (4)
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