Sausages can be made from a wide range of meats, including chicken, beef and pork. Many supermarket sausage varieties are a combination of more than one meat, and they also have added filler, such as rusk, which is used to keep the cost of the product down. Cheap, low-quality sausages are essentially a junk food, and are not really suited for the Paleo diet, but if you are lucky enough to be able to source traditionally made sausage products, or high-quality German sausage, then you can eat them in good conscience.
Paleo-Friendly in Moderation
The Paleo diet is a diet that involves eating food while it is in as close to its natural form as possible. This means eating grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and other high-quality meats. The humble sausage rarely falls into the “close to nature” category because modern sausages are wrapped in a man-made outer layer and are treated with dozens of additives, preservatives and fillers. These preservatives are not something that you should be consuming as a part of the Paleo diet.
However, not all sausages are made in this way. There are many independent butchers that still make their own sausage by blending meats and putting them through a hand-powered machine. If the meat is fresh and left relatively untampered with, or is preserved using spices and salts the way that many German sausage-makers do so, then you will get the same health benefits from a sausage as you would the original meat.
Why Eat Sausage?
There are no real differences between eating a fresh sausage and eating the untouched meat. The main reason why people seek out sausage meat, burgers and other slightly “processed” foods is for variety. If you are getting bored eating beef, chicken and pork in their untouched forms, then why not try a sausage or a hand-made burger instead? You will still enjoy the benefits of the extra protein, healthy fats, vitamins and iron that come from eating those particular meats, and you will enjoy feeling as if you have just had some comfort food too. In moderation, high-quality sausage meat is fine.
What to Avoid
It is rare for supermarkets to include the make-up of the sausage casing on their ingredient list. Some casings are made from collagen, while others are an “edible” form of plastic. Other ingredients to look out for include the filler proteins that are used to round out the meat. Soy protein is a common and undesirable ingredient, and starches such as potato or breadcrumbs are often added to supermarket fillers too. If breadcrumbs are used, then this means you are exposing yourself to gluten, which could be a problem if you are following the Paleo diet because you have celiac disease.
Other ingredients to watch out for include monosodium glutamate, sugars and artificial sweeteners. Yes, even savoury staples such as sausage can have added sugar in them. That is why it is so important to read the label before you buy any pre-packaged food from the supermarket.