Except for some countries where certain types are considered taboo for religious or cultural reasons, red meat is a popular food the world over. However, it has received a lot of bad press in recent times. Many people who do not even consider themselves vegetarian have chosen to abstain from it. According to a recent study, avoiding red meat may not be beneficial to your health as believed.
Just What Is “Red Meat”?
Red meat is not just beef and pork. It may be defined any meat with that appears red in color when raw. Though definitions differ as to what constitutes “red meat”, we’ll keep it simple and take the culinary definition that it is meat from “gamey” mammals such as beef (from cattle), goat, mutton, lamb or mutton, and venison (deer meat).
The Rehabilitation of Red Meat?
Though humans have been consuming red meat perhaps since the beginning, towards the end of the twentieth century it began to receive bad press. It would soon be placed in similar category as foods considered bad for you, such as white flour and sugar. In fact, some have even suggested it may be as bad as tobacco.
The bad press is mostly based on the high content of saturated fats, especially in beef. These fats are said to be bad for your cardiovascular health.
Interestingly, recent findings indicate that even saturated fats may have some benefits for our health.
However, lately some studies have shown that red meat may not be as bad for you. In fact, it may actually be good for you.
Meat, Nutrients, and Your Health
In a study done at East Carolina University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that vegans had below-normal levels of vitamin B-12. Vegans stay away from all kinds of animal products including dairy and eggs. Vegetarians fared slightly better thanks of consumption of eggs and dairy, although they too fell slightly short.
Another study by researchers at Purdue University and University of Texas, published in the same journal, looked at the effects the outcomes of consuming different amounts lean red meat. Apart from the meat, the subjects were following an otherwise healthy diet.
41 overweight or obese participants who were not following a Mediterranean diet were placed on such a diet including either 500 grams or 200 grams a week of lean red meat. They followed the diet for a period of five weeks, followed by four weeks of a self-selected diet, and then the other red-meat-plus-Mediterranean approach.
The results showed that, contrary to expectations, greater weight loss was achieved during the higher red meat phase, as well as lowering of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Red meat contains numerous vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy diet. Before creatine supplements, professional bodybuilders including the “Governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger used to eat lean beef (steak) regularly to build bulk. It was later discovered that beef was a natural source of creatine.