Is Eating Read Meat bad for your health?
Higher intakes of red meat have been linked with a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes. Research is showing that food processing is a key factor involved in the increase of risk.Red meat in a pure form is a good source of protein and B vitamins and has been a key part of the human diet.
Red meat is generally meat derived from farm reared mammals, such as:
Red meat is a popular food amongst those following a paleo diet, in which food choices are guided by judging which foods would have been available to our ancient ancestors.
Followers of a paleo diet will often try to seek food that is unprocessed and where the animals have been fed a natural diet.
Recommended intake of red meat
The Department of Health advises people to consume 90g or less of red meat per day. A thin slice of pork, lamb or beef the size of half a slice of bread provides about 30g of meat.
Red meat and food hygiene
Raw red meat can carry dangerous bacteria so it is important that red meat is stored, cooked and handled appropriately. Wash your hands after handling raw meat and wash any utensils and crockery that have been used for raw meat.
Red meat should not be reheated more than once to prevent food poisoning from occurring. When cooking red meat, heat it all the way through to ensure bacteria inside the meat is killed.
It is very important to distinguish between different types of meat:
- Processed meat: These products are usually from conventionally raised cows, then go through various processing methods. Examples include sausages and bacon.
- Conventional red meat: Conventional red meats are fairly unprocessed, but the cows are usually factory farmed. Meats that are red when raw are defined as red meats. This includes lamb, beef, pork and some others.
- White meat: Meats that are white when cooked are defined as white meats. This includes meat from poultry like chicken and turkey.
- Grass-fed, organic meat: This meat comes from animals that have been naturally fed and raised organically, without drugs and hormones. They also don’t have any artificial chemicals added.
Red meat health benefits
- Red meat is a rich source of protein, saturated fat, iron, zinc and B vitamins.
- Iron is needed to help red blood cells transport oxygen. Iron deficiencies are more likely to occur in children, elderly people and pregnant women.
- Iron is also available dark green leafy plants, beans and grains but is best absorbed by the body from red meat.
- Zinc is required by the body for DNA synthesis and helps the immune system to function effectively.
- As well being found in red meat, zinc is also found in fish, grains, eggs and beans.
- However, zinc is best absorbed from meat and fish sources.
- Amongst the B vitamins found abundantly in red meat are vitamin B6 and vitamin12. Vitamin B6 is beneficial for the immune system and vitamin B12 beneficial for the nervous system. People taking the diabetes drug metformin have an increased risk of having lower levels of vitamin B12.
Dangers of red meat
Consumption of red meat has been linked with increased incidences of heart disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes. The extent of the associations have found to be higher for processed red meat.