The number of people belonging to camp “I don’t eat red meat” appears to be on the rise. This is mainly because of the bad press this type of meat continues receive almost daily. But is red meat bad for you? In this article we shall look at the good and the bad of red meat and hopefully come to an educated conclusion.
What Is Considered Red Meat?
The definition of what is considered as red meat can vary with place and culture (Ask.com). But a general rule of thumb is that red meat is any kind of meat that appears red in color when raw and not white when cooked (Wikipedia). It will often be pink in the center when cooked, of course depending on the doneness. Surprisingly or not, some poultry is considered red meat.
The best known red meat is beef, which also happens to be the most demonized. Others include lamb, goat, bison, pork, duck and goose. Now, don’t cringe or get sick, but you can also add horse, dog, and monkey in the mix.
Red Meat: The Good
A number of ethnic communities in the world consume beef and other forms of red meat as their staple food, with virtually no problems at all. Some of the heath problems associated with this kind of meat, such as heart disease and cancer, are virtually unknown within these communities. Why is this so? We’ll come to that shortly.
Beef is among the best sources of protein you find. The protein it provides is considered “complete” because it consists of all essential amino acids that the body needs. The body cannot make these amino acids, and that is why they are considered “essential”. Many bodybuilders included beef in their diet regularly because of this.
Through digestion, we break down protein into free amino acids. Red meat provides an excellent source of the essential amino acids that we need (Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine). Following protein breakdown, free amino acids are put together in a specific order to build a new protein (protein synthesis).
Beyond protein synthesis, healthy blood lipid profiles and glucose homeostasis have been associated with higher levels of dietary protein. For long-term weight loss, improvements in satiety levels, a measure of the state of fullness between meals has been demonstrated in those individuals who opt for protein rich foods like red meat. See original article
Red meat is also an excellent source of iron that the body needs to carry oxygen and to regulate cell growth. It is also a good source of many other vitamins and minerals.
Red meat might good for your mental health:
Women who cut red meat out of their diet are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to a study.
Those who eat less than the recommended amount of lamb and beef were twice as likely to be diagnosed with the mental health disorders, researchers in Australia have found.
The study of more than 1,000 women showed that completely switching to protein such as chicken and fish is not as healthy as many believe. See original story
Red Meat: The Bad
It is not easy to decide on where to start on the “bad” of red meat. The media is awash with this. Let’s have a look at some of the main concerns.
First is cholesterol. Since this type of meat is typically high in saturated fats, it is thought to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood. But guess what, if you have high cholesterol levels the real culprit is not your diet. Most of your cholesterol (about 75%) is made by your body, mainly in the liver.
Red meat has been associated with some forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Colorectal cancer is the one particularly linked to the consumption of this meat. Due to the link between saturated fat, cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, it is only natural that red meat takes part of the blame.
Red meat, especially processed meat, contains ingredients that have been linked to increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. These include heme iron, saturated fat, sodium, nitrites, and certain carcinogens that are formed during cooking. (HSPH).
So, Is Red Meat Bad For You Or Good For You?
As mentioned, some communities in some parts of the world live almost entirely on red meat, particularly beef. Yet they don’t appear to have any of the health problems we have come to associate with this kind of meat. Why is this so?
Well, the answer may be farming methods. And lifestyle. You see, many indigenous communities whose diet is high on red meat eat grass-fed (or naturally fed), organic animals as opposed to confined and/or ones fed artificial foodstuffs. They also do not eat processed meat that is typically high in salt, not to mention preservatives. Therefore, red meat can actually be good for you.