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How to choose healthier sausages

butcher standing in front of meat cabinet

Think sausages are off the menu if you’re trying to eat healthily? Think again. HFG helps you choose a healthier snag.

A summer barbie isn’t the same without a few sausages on the grill, but you’ll need to choose them carefully. While snags are convenient and tasty, some can send your intake of harmful saturated fats and sodium soaring. To help you enjoy a healthier fry-up, here’s what you need to know about meat-based sausages.

Sizzle it!

Snags come in many different shapes and sizes, but they usually fall into two main categories:

Plain sausages

Made from beef, pork, lamb or chicken, plain sausages usually come out on top nutritionally when compared to their flavoured counterparts. Better-for-you sausage brands are made with a high percentage of lean meat, herbs, spices and a natural casing. Less healthy choices, on the other hand, contain fattier cuts of meats and long lists of additives and preservatives.

Flavoured sausages

Gourmet sausages are made with the same meaty base as plain sausages, but have extra ingredients added to them to boost their flavour. Common additions include ingredients like feta, caramelised onion and even honey. While these sausages can be tastier, they tend to contain more sodium, which is bad news for heart health.

Meat-free sausages

Plant-based sausages are now readily available alongside traditional ones made from meat, but are they healthier? Not always. Some meat-free snags are made using highly processed ingredients, and with high levels of unhealthy fats and sodium. If you’re keen to try plant-powered snags, choose brands made with whole foods, such as beans, chickpeas, tofu and veggies. And remember, the sodium and saturated fat criteria apply to both meat-free and meat-filled sausages

How to choose a healthier sausage

When choosing sausages from supermarket shelves, consider these three main factors:

  • The ingredients list
    Look for a snag with a simple ingredients list that consists of meat, vegetables and natural casing. Compare brands and opt for a sausage with the highest percentage of meat — aim for at least 80 per cent beef, pork, lamb or chicken.
  • The sodium content
    Sodium (salt) can be detrimental to heart health, so the less of it you consume, the better. Your benchmark is less than 500mg sodium per 100g, which can be hard to find. For context, the maximum daily recommended intake of sodium is 2000mg, so it’s best to stick to just one or two sausages per person.
  • The saturated fat content
    Saturated fat should also be minimised for the sake of your heart. Look for snags with less than 5g saturated fat per serve. Fatty meats send the saturated fat content soaring, so choose sausages made from leaner cuts of meat.
First published: Jan 2022

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