An Impartial Analysis of Red Meat Consumption

From the time immemorial, humans have considered livestock as their premium source of food and it is common knowledge that meat in all its various forms is consumed all around the world.

According to a statistical report published by the National Chicken Council, the average person in the US has feasted on around 107 pounds of red meat in the year 2016. Comparing this amount of consumption from the past years, one finds out that US citizens are eating fewer amounts of meat than what they were eating five years ago. In this decade in the United States alone, the consumption of red meat has been reduced by 10 pounds per capita. 

Vegetarians – Take Note

This reduction in red meat consumption has been chiefly attributed to recent scientific studies which indicated that regular intake of mammalian food is the root cause of many serious diseases and health complications. There is no doubt about the harms of red meat, but completely preventing yourself from consuming it is not advisable either.

In this article, we will have a discussion on red meat so that you can decide what your limit of consumption should be.

What is Red Meat?

All the meat that comes from mammalian livestock (mammals) is considered red meat. Beef, pork, mutton, lamb, veal and goat are the general red meats consumed by the human population. Mammalian meat appears red as compared to the white meat (fish and poultry) due to the large value of myoglobin present in it.

Risks Associated with High Consumption of Red Meat

Several health risks have already been noted by food scientists on the consumption of red meat. It is imperative to know the downsides of eating too much meat in order to lead a healthy life.  

Processed Red Meat Can be Carcinogenic

The first and foremost health risk associated with high intake of mammalian meat is the increased chances of acquiring cancer. According to a report from the World Health Organization, processed red meat might contain traces of carcinogens.  High-temperature treatment of the red meat also results in the production of carcinogenic hydrocarbons. WHO validates these findings with the help of a control test that concluded the daily consumption of processed red meat (beef and pork were the meats that were used in the test) can increase the risk of developing cancer in the colon or rectum by 18%. 

Heart Diseases

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600,000 people die of heart-related diseases in the US. High levels of bad fats or cholesterol in daily diet lead to cardiovascular diseases. Red meats are rich in cholesterol and saturated fat and its high consumption on regular basis can lead to major health problems. High blood pressure in case of different heart-related complications can also result in kidney failure.

Benefits of Red Meat

Even with these serious consequences, the inclusion of red meat in your daily diet in a regulated amount is necessary for the healthy functioning of the body.

Red Meat is Rich in Proteins

Red meat is one of the richest sources of the most sought-after macronutrient (meaning that the body needs large amounts of it) which is  protein and consequently, eating healthy cooked meat as part of your diet can help you maintain strong muscle development.  Protein-rich food is an important building block of the bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Proteins present in red meat are also involved in vital physiological reactions to the body; such as making enzymes and hormones.  Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” 

In addition, mammalian foods contain iron, zinc and B vitamins – essential nutrients that the body needs.

Red Meat Can Cure Anemia

Red meat also contains ample amounts of iron, which can reduce the risk of iron deficiency in an individual. It is worth mentioning that more than one billion people all around the world are suffering from iron deficiency anemia. Red meat contains some other healthy micronutrients as well.

Preparing Meat for Diner
Consumption in moderation is the key!

So, it’s all about moderation, due to the risks and benefits associated with red meat. Even eating some fast food, although not the healthiest choice, especially if you are trying to lose weight, is not out of the question, as long as you don’t overdo it!  And it is also advisable to speak to your medical professional about how much red meat is considered moderation for your particular metabolism, as well moderating the consumption of fast food. 

In the interim, one guideline you can follow is a recommendation from the American Institute of Cancer Research that, in general, an individual should not eat more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat per week.