Red meat: good or bad?

“I hold this as a rule of life: too much of anything is bad.”
– Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

 

Quick facts about red meat taken from Meat and Livestock Australia:
– Red meat is one of the best sources of 5 essential nutrients
– Red meat (beef, veal, lamb and mutton) is an important source of top quality nutrients (iron, zinc, omega-3, B vitamins and protein)
– Consumed 3 times a week* by most Australians, red meat plays an important role in the Australian diet – it is the largest contributor of readily available iron and zinc and the second largest contributor of omega-3, after fish.
– Consuming red meat 3 to 4 times a week* makes it easy to meet your iron and zinc needs.
– With less than 4% saturated fat, trimmed red meat has the Heart Foundation’s Tick of Approval.

* A serve = 65g to 100g cooked meat or chicken e.g. 1/2 cup of mince, or 2 small slices of roast meat (Cancer Council, 2013)

BUT…

Recently there has been a lot of media coverage surrounding new research into the links between red meat consumption and negative health effects, such as heart disease. ‘Researchers have now laid the blame on bacteria in the human gut that convert a common nutrient found in beef into a compound that may speed up the build-up of plaques in the arteries.’ (Nature, 2013). In a nutshell, lean red meat is high in protein and low in cholesterol, which is supposed to be healthy, yet research has shown that consumption of red meat increases the chance of developing heart disease. This is because of a chemical called L-carnitine, which can combine with certain microbes in the intestine to cause fatty build-ups in the arteries. As is the case in many situations, some are more susceptible than others, depending on the intenstinal bacteria found in each individual. Nature‘s article, “Red meat + wrong bacteria = bad news for hearts“, gives the more detailed account of these findings for those who are interested.

So, before you cut steak out of your diet altogether, remember to follow up the media’s health scares with your own research and common sense. Know the facts, and be sensible: everything in moderation!

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