Last 2 decades have been fuelled by unending debates on the consumption of red meat and it’s associated risks like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes etc.
Red meat, A boon or bane?
Try and ask a handful of health conscious people around and their take on red meat. Most likely you will get an array of adamant opinions. Red meat is one of few foods which consistently keeps stirring controversies in the health community.
In 2012, World Health Organization classified red meat as “probable carcinogenic” in the same category as cigarettes. This was followed by another 2012 study, which linked red meat with a higher risk of death.
If this was not enough, there was another study published in April 2016 which added fuel to the fire. This report indicated higher consumption of red meat, including processed meat to an increased risk of cardiovascular and cancer mortality. Media went on a frenzy around the world and made this food out to be nutritional anathema.
It seems Americans still refuse to give up on their daily dose of burgers, bacon and beef. Americans eat 71.2 pounds of red meat per year which is amongst the highest meat consumption in the world. It seems the culprit is not the food but the eating habits of Americans which should be in question.
Whether to eat red meat or not, is an individual choice and decision.
A new review of clinical trials from Purdue University brings a good news. It says, consumption of red meat in recommended amount does not affect short-term cardiovascular disease risk factors.
The reviewers screened hundreds of related research articles. It focused on studies that met specific criteria which included the amount of red meat consumed. An analysis of the 24 studies that met the criteria is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
According to Lauren O’Connor, doctoral student, “We found that consuming more than half a serving per day of red meat, which is equivalent to a 3 ounce serving three times per week, did not worsen blood pressure and total blood cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride concentrations.”
“Red meat is a nutrient-rich food, not only as a source of protein but also bioavailable iron,” said Wayne Campbell, professor of nutrition science. He further added “our research, which included all types of red meat, mostly unprocessed beef and pork. supports that it can be incorporated into a healthier diet.” However, further clinical trials are needed to assess other risk factors which include blood glucose control, inflammation etc.
It is astonishing that even after so many controversies surrounding the ill effects of consuming red meat, which includes cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and even cancer, has not deterred consumers and per capita consumption has jumped by 5 percent.
The year 2015 has also reported “the largest increase in U.S. meat consumption since the food scares of the 1970s.” This trend is expected to continue in the coming years too. That’s not all, by 2018, meat consumption should be back up to the peak levels reached in the mid-aughts according to a report from the Dutch bank Rabobank.
So, where do we stand? Can red meat be part of our healthy and well-balanced diet?
Modern science has weighed on both the sides of the coin for us, the good and not-so-good effects of meat in the diet. It is up to us to evaluate the inclusion, exclusion or restriction based on our individual dietary needs. Remember, moderation is the key, listen to your body to determine what is best for you.
Lowdown on red meat
It is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.
According to a survey published in NCBI, consumption of lean meat is a valuable addition to your daily healthy diets.
Lean meat provides a complete source of protein. It is also one of the most nutritious foods you can eat for it is loaded with essential vitamins minerals, antioxidants and important nutrients like Creatine and Carnosine.
This controversial food is a rich source of vitamin B(12) which is required for the proper functioning of every system in your body, iron, an energy booster which provides oxygen to the blood and aids in metabolism and zinc, which is required for a strong immune system. It is also a good source of many other nutrients like niacin, vitamin B(6), phosphorus, and potassium.
Well the downside is
It can cause cardiovascular disease not from the saturated fats and cholesterol, but from a breakdown of a compound found in the meat, carnitine.
An increased risk of type 2 diabetes According to recent research, three extra servings of red meat every week increases the risk of developing diabetes by 50 percent.
The risk of colorectal cancer is associated with eating large quantities of red meat based on studies reported in Harvard Health Publications.
The bottom line is:
Anything in excess is bad. If you eat 10 ounces of meat every day and think you will get away with it? you are wrong. Sooner or later, it will catch up and bring in all kind of ill effects.
On the other side, you cannot afford to omit out the benefits you would get eating meat. Don’t shy away from it. Your health is not just limited to a specific kind of food but a combination of everything you eat, your lifestyle, physical activities, lifestyle and choices you make.
No matter what you do, remember, the key to healthy eating is moderation.