Red Meat- Is It Good or Bad for You?

Red Meat- Is It Good or Bad for You-min

For ages, scientists have debated whether red meat is good or bad for health. Interestingly, the conclusions are mixed.

While some scientists think that red meat is good for health, some think otherwise and hold it that a person should avoid or limit his consumption of red meat. Still, it is generally agreed that white meats are the best fit if you have to eat some form of meat. It’s also noteworthy that the answer partly lies in the amount of meat you take, the frequency in which you take it, and by extension, the method of cooking. Let’s take an objective look at whether or not red meat is healthy for you.

Understanding red meat

Understanding what is meant by red meat is the way to start this discussion. The meat falls into two categories, red and white. The classification depends on the amount of myoglobin in the meat. Myoglobin is a form of protein that upon being exposed to air and being oxidized, produces a red color. Red meat has a higher amount of myoglobin and refers to any meat from livestock, including veal, pork, beef, and lamb. Such is different from white meat that majorly comes from poultry, fish, and seafood.

The red meat in the past and the red meat today

Admittedly, the red meat we eat today is not what was there 10,000 years ago. In the olden days, red meat came from cows who would freely roam about, eating things natural to them such as grass and insects, which is why such red meat was healthy and had no health impacts. Today, most of the red meat comes from animals born and bred in the factory environment, where they are fed with growth hormone and are given antibiotics. It is also a matter of critical need to differentiate between various groups of red meat. While grass-fed organic red meat refers to meat from animals not fed with chemicals and left to roam freely and feed on grass, processed and conventional red meat is often from factory-bred animals fed on chemicals.

The nutritional breakdown of red meat

Interestingly, red meat is one of the most nutritious meats there are. Red meat has antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that are useful to you. Talk about vitamin B3, B6 & B12, selenium proteins, and zinc as some of the useful dietary requirements you can extract from red meat. Carnosine and creatine are two nutrients that you need for brain development and muscle function, and these two can be found in red meat. Those who don’t take red meat are often deficient in these nutrients, which is why their brain and muscle development are affected. Whenever you can, try taking the grass-fed organic meat as such have vitamins A & E, fatty acid CLA, and omega-3 fatty acids, much of which misses on grain-fed red meat.

Heart disease, diabetes, mortality, and meat

While the impacts red meat can have on health have been widely studied, most of these studies are observational and not experimental. Such studies tend to establish associations and not causation. Some of these studies have shown an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and mortality with the consumption of red meat. Still, some of the studies, including one with more than a 1.2million people, showed that while the risk increased with the consumption of processed red meat there may not be any risk in consuming unprocessed red meat. Thus, distinguishing between processed and unprocessed red meats is key, as the two may have completely different effects. Still, observational studies are not sufficient for drawing conclusions as they have their limitations. A better alternative is controlled randomized trials.

Controlled randomized studies

These constitute one way of more accurate studies. These studies focus on groups, with one taking aspect A of diet and the other group taking aspect B of the diet, after which the groups are compared. One such study concluded that people who take half a serving or more of red meat daily are not adversely affected or have their risk for heart disease increased. Another study showed that taking lean unprocessed meat does not increase the risk of heart disease when such meat is compared to white meat. While all of these studies paid attention to lean meat, none has focused the high-fat red meat and so no comments can be made for these.

Controlled randomized studies have also shown that those taking red lean meat perform better at physical exercises than the non-meat eaters. Interestingly, a study that compared the Atkins diet (a diet high in red meat) and Ornish diet (a diet majorly focusing on plant-based foods) reached a conclusion after 7.5years that the people on the Ornish diet were not any better than those on the Atkin diet when it comes to their risks for heart disease. Generally, randomized controlled studies show that unprocessed red meats do not adversely affect people, and may even be better than the processed meat. Still, there is a need for further studies, especially those that can focus on cooking and preparation methods & their effects, and the effect of lean meat on cancer and mortality.

Correlation and not causation

It is clear that most studies that point to red meat as being harmful and having an increased risk to health concerns like cancer, heart disease, and mortality are basically observational studies. These studies only associate red meat with these conditions but have not been able to prove that red meat is the cause of the same conditions. Yet, it goes without a say that people who eat a lot of red meat are predisposed to many risk factors which compromise their health.  Most of them are not health conscious, overindulge in alcoholic drinks, and often smoke, which is why they are more predisposed to health risks.

Optimizing the benefits from red meats

Cooking meat at high temperatures has been shown to form harmful compounds such as advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), heterocyclic amines (HAs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), all of which can cause cancer in animals. If meat is to be proved to cause cancer, chances are high that these compounds are responsible. Thus, to optimize the benefits from meat without risking the formation of these compounds, cook your meat at gentler temperatures to avoid burning and charring. While the taste of grilled and flamed meat is great, the harmful substances in them are not something you want to ingest into your system.

Conclusion

The debate on whether red meat is healthy or not is old. This article has taken an objective look at red meat. Interestingly, while observational studies associate red meat with cancer, heart disease, and mortality, there is rarely any study to prove this. Still, eating lean unprocessed organic meat helps you get the most out of the meat, especially if you opt for the gentler cooking method as opposed to the high-temperature grilling and flaming.

Ksenia Sobchak

Ksenia Sobchak, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication: Fashion Journalism, Central Saint Martins Ksenia Sobchak enjoys blogging on fashion, style, lifestyle, love and CBD areas. Prior to becoming a blogger, Ksenia worked for a renowned fashion brand. Ksenia is a contributing author to leading fashion, lifestyle and CBD magazines and blogs. You can bump into Ksenia at her favourite cafe in South Kensington where she has written most blogs. Ksenia is a staunch advocate of CBD and its benefits to people. Ksenia is also on the panel of CBD reviewers at CBD Life Mag and Chill Hempire. Her favourite form of CBD are CBD gummies and CBD tinctures. Ksenia is a regular contributor at leading fashion, lifestyle as well as CBD magazines and blogs.

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