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Myth: Red meat is bad for your health

TRUTH: This isn’t entirely a myth, but it does need clarification.

Here’s the bad news: red meat has more saturated fat than lean meats.  Increased saturated fat consumption is correlated with higher cholesterol (which is correlated with increased risk of heart disease).  For cancer, it’s hard to say whether or not red meat increases your risk.  It seems pretty clear from research that increased red meat consumption is associated with a greater risk of colorectal cancer.  The consensus is that a higher consumption of processed meats and red meat is associated with a greater risk of CERTAIN types of cancer – the jury is still out on if there’s an increased risk of ALL cancer.

Why is it bad?  Probably the saturated fat, possibly carcinogens (which form on ANY foods where they are blackened during cooking, i.e. grill marks), or possibly because of the type of iron found in animal sources (vs. the iron found in beans).

Here’s the good news (yay!): There are a lot of nutritional benefits to red meat!  Because it comes from animals, red meat is a complete protein (meaning it contains all essential amino acids), has a lot of iron, B12, and zinc.  Also, the body absorbs these nutrients more easily from meat than from plant sources.

BOTTOM LINE:  Choose appropriate portion sizes of red meat (about 100 grams or the size of your palm in thickness and diameter) – just not daily.  Choose leaner cuts (such as a round or roast – like filet mignon).  Choose 95% lean ground meat when making burgers, meatloaf, meat sauces or filling.

  • The most tender cuts are those furthest from the horn and the hoof.
  • The leanest cuts are ‘loin’ or ’round cuts’. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  1. Webmd article: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-truth-about-red-meat
  2. Check out www.beefnutrition.org or this handout for more specific information: http://www.beefnutrition.org/CMDocs/BeefNutrition/29WaystoLoveLeanBeef.pdf  (remember that this info is created BY the beef producers and cattle farmers– so they want you to be eating it…lots of it!)

I also have a sneaking suspicion that many of you may also be interested in this article: http://kategardnernutrition.com/index.php/archive/beer-me/

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