This is Part XVI of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.
You know which question I get asked the most, as soon as people find out that I’m a Dietitian?
Not “how do I lose weight?”
Or “why can’t I lose this last five pounds?”
“What’s so wrong with red meat?”
My answer (coming purely from a health standpoint and NOT from an environmental or animal welfarist point of view)?
Well. Actually. The answer should be “nothing and everything, all at the same time.”
Let me explain.
According to the USDA Agriculture Fact Book, each American is eating about 57 more pounds of meat (red meat, poultry and fish) in one year than we were in the 1950’s.
That’s a LOT of meat.
There have been lots and lots of studies regarding red meat consumption and what it does to our bodies and our health.
For starters, we know that cooking meats for a long time at high temperatures can produce carcinogens, which can (drastically) increase the risk of certain cancers. In addition, studies have shown over and over again the direct link between high meat consumption and heart disease risk.
Diets high in red meat may also (possibly) have a link to an increased risk in breast cancer.
By now, you’re probably wondering where the “nothing” part of my answer comes from.
At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, it really comes down to my whole philosophy on staying balanced.
Because let’s face it.
Ice cream isn’t health food. Cupcakes aren’t exactly part of the food pyramid.
But they’re good. We enjoy them!
High consumption of red meat isn’t a good thing. But then, neither is high consumption of sugary baked goods.
Or apple crisp.
If you enjoy red meat, then learn how to fit it into your healthy living lifestyle!
Choose mostly lean cuts such as top sirloin steaks, eye of round roasts, sirloin tip side steaks, 90-93% lean hamburg and bottom round roasts.
Go vegetarian a couple of days a week and eat fish/lean poultry in place of red meats when you can.
Pile the vegetables sky high on your plate and cut back a little on the amount of red meat you consume.
And, of course, eat more vegetables. Because that’s always a good thing.
Red meat can fit into anyone’s plan of eating for health and well being. It does, after all, offer us a large dose of zinc, which is important for immune health. And it provides the form of iron known as “heme iron,” which means it is very easily absorbed in our bodies (this is especially important for young women during “childbearing age.”)
So. That is my answer to the very common red meat question. Nothing. And Everything.
It’s all about Balance.
Now if you’re more concerned with meat consumption and its effect on our environment and/or animal welfare, then that’s another topic altogether, which is better saved for another day. 😉
QUESTION: Do you eat meat? Do you eat other forms of protein on a fairly regular basis? I’m mostly drawn to vegetarian sources, but I do enjoy the occasional grass fed burger, a saucy taco or the occasional hunk of roast beef. 😀