Research: Red meat not near as bad as thought

Research wordResearch word

Research casts some doubt on concerns about red meat consumption.

Steak

Dietitians and researchers have long indicated concern about humans eating red meat. Vegans and animal rights advocated have used it to try to persuade the public to avoid red meat and turn to vegetable based protein sources. The problem with most of the advice and evidence is that is varies and changes with each study and that which has been recommend for years is becoming less and less certain.

For years, the experts in the field of nutrition and cardiology have push the narrative that red meat is one cause of of heart disease and that we should reduce our consumption to lower our risk. For meat eaters, there is good news from a journal article published in October of 2019​[1]​. The new research looked as data from five previously published works. Basically, used a new technique that looks as nutrient based intake using a system called GRADE to determine if red meat might be tied to increased risk. Based on this results, a group of experts made a dietary recommendation.

The study revealed very weak evidence to support the lowering of unprocessed red meat, but continued recommendation to reduce processed meat intake. Prior research showed evidence to reduce red meat intake and the public did reduce their intake. Unfortunately, this did not significantly reduce risk. For me, this study is not a closed book. More research is needed.

Certainly, this is not the first article I have written on this topic. In Red Meat is not bad your heart, I wrote about more research that backs up this result and recommendation. The research against meat has never been clear cut because research on food intake and disease is often complicated by habits and genetics. Although researchers try to imply causation, it is often biased and lacks necessary clarity to do that.

The bottom line: Red meat may not be that evil villain we thought it was. I would still avoid processed meets such as lunch meat, hot dogs, and sausages, but go out an enjoy a steak. I would not make it an every day meal, but 2-3 times a week should not be a huge risk. Experts will continue to doubt this study until better research exists, but while they try to prove red meat is evil, I will continue to enjoy it. Red meat may also be a tool in helping you lose weight.

Reference:

  1. [1]
    B. C. Johnston et al., “Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium,” Ann Intern Med, Oct. 2019 [Online]. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.7326/M19-1621
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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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