Scientists now say yes to red meat: Here's why

Adopting a Mediterranean diet with lean and unprocessed red meat helped overweight adults improve risk factors for multiple heart and metabolic diseases.

Myupchar October 16, 2019 13:20:24 IST
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Scientists now say yes to red meat: Here's why
  • Because both red and white meat are rich sources of high-value protein

  • And high-quality protein keeps you full longer, helping with weight loss

  • What we call red meat includes buff, pork, lamb and game

Should you or shouldn’t you eat red meat? The question may now be moot. Thanks to new research which shows that the distinction between red and white meat may be exaggerated.

Why?

Because both red and white meat are rich sources of high-value protein. And high-quality protein keeps you full longer, helping with weight loss. Plus, when we are able to maintain our weight, it has other health benefits for our heart and gut.

Scientists now say yes to red meat Heres why

Representational image. Image source: Getty Image

Red alert

What we call red meat includes buff, pork, lamb and game. Over the years, researchers have argued that eating red meat can cause heart diseases and colon cancer, which has led to the negative perception of red meat in health.

According to the American Heart Association, red meats generally have more saturated or unhealthy fat than other sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, or legumes.

The steaks

Laura Wyness of Queen Margaret University, UK, talked about the benefits of red meat at a 2016 conference on “The future of animal products in the human diet: health and environmental concerns”.

Research shows:

  • Red meat is rich in all eight essential amino acids required by adults and all nine required by children. Amino acids help in building muscle and regulating the immune system.
  • Lean red meat is a useful component of weight-loss diets because of the satisfying effect of its high protein content.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA help in decreasing chances of heart blockage, improve blood pressure and heart rate. The main PUFA in red meat are linoleic (n-6) and α-linoleic acid (n-3).
  • Red meat has an abundance of iron in it.
  • Red meat has high-quality protein which is necessary to maintain the quality of life associated with adequate muscle mass and strength during middle age and beyond.
  • The contribution of meat to the average daily intake of magnesium is 15%, 21% for iron, 18% for potassium and 36% for zinc.
  • Vitamins found in red meat are vitamin A, B₂, B₁, B₁₂, B₆, and B₃.

Mediterranean Diet

A 2003 Greek cohort study with 22,000 participants found that the Mediterranean diet may be linked to reduced instances of deaths by cardiovascular diseases like heart failure, heart attack, and coronary artery disease.

The original Mediterranean diet advised against eating red meat. Here's what the diet looked like before:

  • Eating non-refined grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
  • High fat consumption.
  • The use of olive oil for cooking as well as a salad dressing - virgin olive oil is the principal source of fat.
  • Eating moderate to high quantities of fish.
  • Consuming small to moderate amounts of poultry and dairy products (usually as yoghurt or cheese).
  • No consumption of red meats, processed meats or meat products.

In 2018, a study by the Department of Nutrition Science, Texas, US, found that adopting a Mediterranean-style eating pattern with lean (without the layer of fat) and unprocessed (fresh) red meat, helped overweight or moderately obese adults improve risk factors for multiple heart diseases and metabolic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

The study showed that even after consuming red meat, there was a substantial decrease in the total cholesterol level and improvement in blood pressure parameters. No change in the glucose or insulin levels were reported.

So, should you or shouldn't you eat red meat? The jury's still out. In the meantime, as with all things — moderation may be the key here, too — the health department of the UK government advises that the intake of red meat be limited to 70g or less per day for optimal health.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, read our article on Meat: Types, Benefits and Side-effects.

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