Our diets contain a lot more red meat than what is recommended as a daily allowance. However, we do little to reduce our intake. The truth is, there are more serious dangers to consuming red meat than we realize. Especially considering the methods and ingredients used to produce and process meat these days. Here’s why you should consider, significantly cutting down on red meat.
Reasons To Cut Down Red Meat Intake
1. Increases Risk Of Heart Disease
Compared to other sources of protein, red meat is seen to be the least healthy because it significantly increases the risk of heart disease.1 This may be because of the amount of saturated fat in most forms of red meat.
2. Increases Risk Of Cancer
Red meat has been linked to cancer, especially colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer, thanks to the compounds used in the processing as well as the methods of cooking.2 3 Hormones used in raising cattle and other livestock seems to increase the likelihood of developing imbalances ultimately leading to breast cancer.4
3. Increases Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
Several studies have linked excess red meat consumption with a 12% elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that whenever those servings of red meat were replaced with whole grains, low-fat dairy or nuts, the risk reduced significantly. However, researchers did notice that if the red meat intake remains the same, increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables doesn’t reduce the risk.5
4. Increases Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Studies have linked red meat consumption with greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well. This is possibly due to the iron content in meat. The excess iron can damage nerve fibers in the brain, which leads to cognitive decay.6
5. Increases Risk Of Contracting E. Coli
The risk of bacteria spreading is prevalent among red meat. This is because too often, a pack of ground meat at the grocery store may contain meat from several cows, which increases the risk of infection. To avoid this, most times, the meat is treated with ammonia to kill bacteria. That doesn’t sound too appetizing now, does it?
6. Shortens Lifespan
Thanks to all of these issues caused by red meat, many long-term studies have noted that an increased intake of red meat is associated with a shorter lifespan.7 8 In other words, people who ate more red meat were more likely to die early. So unless you want to kick the bucket early, try to reduce your intake of red meat. You can even choose to cut it out completely.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk
Of course, some people may choose to cut out red meat completely, considering the risk. If you absolutely cannot give it up, here are some ways to reduce the risk of developing these conditions.
Reduce your intake to about 70g a day at the most. Get your protein from other sources like poultry, tofu, beans, low-fat dairy, and nuts. If you are going to eat that steak, make sure that it’s a very special occasion that doesn’t come around too often.
Quality is a huge factor. Meats like hot dogs, processed sausages, bologna, and other cured meats like salami have nitrates and other harmful additives that you can’t be sure of. Instead, opt for cuts of steak that comes from a reliable source. Organic meat that comes from grass-fed cows is your best bet.
Searing steak on a direct high heat is usually the most popular way to cook it but it makes the meat even more unhealthy. High heat changes the composition of the meat to form compounds that can lead to cancer-causing gene mutations.9 Instead, opt for dishes like stews where the meat is cooked on a gentle heat for a long time. This is preferred over frying, grilling or searing in a hot pan over direct heat.
The next time you go to a restaurant and you’re considering the double beef patty cheeseburger, think twice before ordering it.
|↑1||Bernstein, Adam M., Qi Sun, Frank B. Hu, Meir J. Stampfer, JoAnn E. Manson, and Walter C. Willett. “Major dietary protein sources and risk of coronary heart disease in women.” Circulation 122, no. 9 (2010): 876-883.|
|↑2, ↑9||John, Esther M., Mariana C. Stern, Rashmi Sinha, and Jocelyn Koo. “Meat consumption, cooking practices, meat mutagens, and risk of prostate cancer.” Nutrition and cancer 63, no. 4 (2011): 525-537.|
|↑3||Joshi, Amit D., Andre Kim, Juan Pablo Lewinger, Cornelia M. Ulrich, John D. Potter, Michelle Cotterchio, Loic Le Marchand, and Mariana C. Stern. “Meat intake, cooking methods, dietary carcinogens, and colorectal cancer risk: findings from the Colorectal Cancer Family Registry.” Cancer medicine 4, no. 6 (2015): 936-952.|
|↑4||Guo, Jingyu, Wei Wei, and Lixing Zhan. “Red and processed meat intake and risk of breast cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective studies.” Breast cancer research and treatment 151, no. 1 (2015): 191-198.|
|↑5||Pan, An, Qi Sun, Adam M. Bernstein, Matthias B. Schulze, JoAnn E. Manson, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. “Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 94, no. 4 (2011): 1088-1096.|
|↑6||UCLA study suggests iron is at core of Alzheimer’s disease. University of California, Los Angeles.|
|↑7||Pan, An, Qi Sun, Adam M. Bernstein, Matthias B. Schulze, JoAnn E. Manson, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. “Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies.” Archives of internal medicine 172, no. 7 (2012): 555-563.|
|↑8||Sinha, Rashmi, Amanda J. Cross, Barry I. Graubard, Michael F. Leitzmann, and Arthur Schatzkin. “Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people.” Archives of internal medicine 169, no. 6 (2009): 562-571.|