Red Meat: Is Bad or Good for Health? An Overview

Red meat, is bad or good for health? This debate is worth considering. There are two different groups of people with different perspectives. Who is correct? Or who is wrong? This is a bit perplexing and controversial to say anything.

People have been eating meat for many years just focusing on the health benefits. But over the past few decades, a debate is started whether to eat red meat or not? Many observational studies started to blame red meat. And linked it with several harmful diseases.

The hype of these studies masks the health benefits of red meat and greatly influences its reputation.

So let’s figure out the pros and cons of red meat on the basis of general observation and some scientific research findings.

What is red meat?

Red meat is any meat that contains more myoglobin and red in color. It is the muscle meat of mammals such as beef, lamb, and goat, etc.

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Types of red meat

Conventional meat

Conventional red meat includes unprocessed meat that usually comes from factory-farmed animals such as beef, lamb, pork, and some other animals.

Grass-fed, organic red meat

Organic red meat comes from animals that are fed in natural and organic environments may be through grazing. These animals reared without drugs, hormones, and any other artificial chemicals.

Processed meat

Processed meat is usually conventional red meat but processed in the industry to make different meat products such as sausages and bacon.

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Is red meat more nutritious?

No doubt, red meat is loaded with a wide variety of nutrients. This includes vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and several other nutrients.

100-gram raw meat contains:

  • Protein: 20-grams
  • Fats: 10-grams
  • Vitamin B3: 25% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B6: 18% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B12: 37% of the RDA
  • Iron: 12% of the RDA
  • Selenium: 24% of the RDA
  • Zinc: 32% of the RDA

Besides this, several other vitamins and nutrients like creatine and carnosine are also present in red meat.

Also Read: What Foods Have High Iron Content

Is red meat good for you?

There are several health benefits of eating red meat. Red meat is loaded with various nutrients which provide several health benefits. Let’s explore them one by one:

  • Red meat is a rich source of protein, which helps in bones and muscle building.
  • Red meat contains a high amount of heme-iron, that usually lacks in children, many girls at their teenage and pregnant women.
  • It provides zinc which helps the body for DNA synthesis and your immune system work properly.
  • Vitamin B6 is also beneficial for the immune system. And vitamin B12 is helpful for the nervous system.
  • As red meat is not only a nutrient-rich food but can also give energy. For example, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef meat can give you 180 calories 

Is red meat bad for you?

Different observational studies have linked the consumption of red meat with several diseases like heart disease, cancer, and type-2 diabetes. Here are some bad effects that may be associated with red meat consumption.

Is red meat carcinogenic?

The consumption of red meat is associated with several types of cancers especially colorectal cancer. The saturated fat in red meat can be associated with cancer of the colon and breast.

It is further revealed that cooking meat forms some harmful carcinogens and other chemicals that contribute to increasing the risk of cancer. These chemicals are heterocyclic amines (HAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Is red meat cause heart problem?

The eating of red meat can be linked with heart diseases as some red meats contain a high amount of saturated fats. These fats may enhance the blood cholesterol level. This high level of LDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart problems.

A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that consumption of red meat is directly associated with cardiovascular problems. This study further indicates that regular consumption of red meat; especially processed meat may lead to premature death.

Several other studies have also given similar results. However, these are observational studies and have limitations. You cannot draw any conclusion without strong evidence.

Risk for type-2 diabetes patients

Eating red meat is also linked with type-2 diabetes. It was observed that, eating unprocessed red meat increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. A study has indicated that the risk of diabetes is 20% higher in people who eat more than 110g of unprocessed red meat a day.

These studies have no trial basis. Some other studies also indicate opposite results. Therefore, just focusing on the ill side can surely be an injustice for red meat. It can be safe to eat red meat within certain limits as recommended by nutritionists.

How much red meat should you eat?

It is observed that people usually eat more than 90 grams of red meat or processed meat. But it is recommended to reduce your intake to 70 grams per day.

If you are eating more than 90 grams on one day, you should take less in the coming days or eat no meat on a certain day to compensate for the excess amount you have taken.

From the above discussion, it can be predicted that red meat can be taken with certain guidelines to minimize its ill effects and maximize its health benefits.

  • Try to use unprocessed and properly cooked meat.
  • Always use gentle cooking methods like steaming and stewing.
  • Avoid high heat cooking and add some plant food to your diet also.
  • Choose lean meat and trim fat from meat before cooking.
  • Marinate your meat with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. It can help to reduce certain chemicals such as HAs.

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