When it comes to healthy meals and snacks, sausages probably aren't the first items to come to mind. Is it really true? Can you actually buy decent healthy sausages that won't break your calorie budget? Well yes, and below we'll go through what to look out for and how to snag the best options.
Personally, I love sausages. For a big part of my childhood, it's pretty much all I would eat!
As an adult, my tastes may have changed and my preferences expanded, but it's hard to dislike good old bangers. From the weekend sausage sizzle at Bunnings, or a staple belly filler at the barbecue. Sausages are a common feature in many households.
It's fair to say though that they do attract a bad reputation when it comes to health and nutrition.
Mouthwatering, satisfy and often having great flavour, Aussies love sausages. Our bodies don't necessarily enjoy their fat and salt content or other unmentionable ingredients.
So can sausages be included as part of a healthy diet? Absolutely! Let me show you what to look for so you can buy healthy sausages and keep everyone happy.
Get under the skin when buying healthy sausages
Make no mistake about it - there are many myths when it comes to what's in sausages. You'll hear loads of stories and tales about what goes into sausages.
For the most part, these are nothing but scare stories.
At their most basic, sausages are made from meat with an edible binder or filler. The meat is usually beef or pork. The filler helps keep everything together. Binders and fillers can range from starches, flaked rice, wheat flour or breadcrumbs.
Flavourings and spices are often added. You can find a range of herbs included, and usually there'll be some preservatives too.
Love the skin it's in
There are normally 2 types of sausage skins.
Natural sausage cases are generally made using pig, sheep or cow intestines. Cheaper sausages often have collagen skins made from processed pig or cowhide.
When you're looking to buy healthy sausages, remember "Less is more"
Each type of sausage will have a different nutritional profile and varying ingredient list. With so much variation available, every brand will have something different in their offering.
An easy rule to follow is those sausage with the fewest ingredients are generally your healthiest choices.
Read the ingredients list carefully and choose based on what you find. Or don't find.
Remember, sausages are classed as processed meats. As such, dietary guidelines view them as occasional foods. That is, they are fine to eat them sometimes, in small amounts.
Buy lower fat sausages for the healthiest option
In some cases you'll find really lean sausages with less than 5% fat. Most varieties come in at between 15 and 18% fat. However, traditional sausages from your local butcher may be as high as 30%.
In itself, high fat content isn't necessarily problem. Fat brings flavour and these are supposed to be occasional treats after all.
The main issue in high fat sausages though is that much of the fat it saturated. Saturated fats are well known to have implications for your health, raising your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Where possible, look for varieties low in fat but packed full of flavour.
Lose the salt
Like most processed foods, sausages high in fat also tend to contain high amounts of salt.
It's a good idea to always check the packaging and look at the sodium content. Ideally, look for a brand with under 600mg sodium per 100g.
What are the healthy sausage options and where can you buy them?
In recent years, the range of sausages has really increased. Most supermarkets, deli counters, fresh food stores and butchers have a large selection of healthier sausage options.
Look for lean and extra-lean varieties and don't forget, there's even vegetarian choices.
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Here's some other options to consider:
Traditionally, beef and pork are the most popular sausage fillings. While that's still the case, you'll also find chicken, lamb and kangaroo options. Additionally, in some stores you'll even see turkey and venison options too.
Look for sausages with a high percentage of meat content. In general, the higher the meat percentage, the better quality the sausage. Choose one containing more than 70% meat.
Meat 'flavoured' sausages
If the label says something like beef flavoured, move along.
Most likely, you'll find the sausage contains a lot less meat than a traditional option. Furthermore, there's likely to be a blend of meats present.
Generally, these sausages will be at the cheaper end often in bulk-buy packaging.
Move along and see if you can find a better alternative.
Gluten-free sausage options
Nowadays, there are loads of GF sausages available. In particular, have a look at the Peppercorn Good Food Company's range. You'll see lots of extra-lean varieties, many also gluten free.
Don't forget to ask your local butcher too. They may have a reserved area available to prevent gluten cross-contamination. You'll also be able to ask about the particular meat and blend that's available.
Again, there's lots of options out there now. Soy-based, Quorn, bean and vegetable mixes to name just a few. Shop around, check the fridge aisle in your supermarket and you're sure to find one you fancy.
Often including more flavourings and ingredients, butchers and supermarkets alike have caught up with demand for 'higher end' sausages. It's best to avoid fatty or cured types like chorizo or salami.
Look for kanagaroo versions (Kanga Bangas) or other types of game which is often low fat, high flavour.
Often, sausages are a cheaper alternative to other meat options. If budget is an issue for you, be sure to check out my complete guide to a healthy diet while saving money at the supermarket.
Healthy Eating on a Budget
Ultimate guide to saving money at the supermarket