Red meat is one of the most controversial foods in nutritional history.
Although we humans have been eating red meat during evolution, many people still think it can be harmful.
So, I want to classify those bullshit words and find real evidence.
This article will also focus on the effects of red meat for health . I will leave ethical and environmental issues for others to resolve.
Meat today is not like old meat
People have eaten meat throughout evolution and our digestive system is well equipped to digest it.
Ethnic groups live traditionally like the Inuit and Masai who eat a lot of meat, more The average amount that Westerners eat, still has great health .
However, the meat we eat today very different with meat that our ancestors ate. In the past, animals were wandering freely and eating grass, insects or anything in the wild that they could eat.
Image of a wild boar on a field of 10,000 years ago, free movement, chewing grass and other edible plants.
The flesh of this animal is completely different from that of a cow born, raised in a factory and fed with nut food. It may also have been injected with growth stimulating hormone and antibiotics.
Today, some of our meat products even go through More processing process after slaughter; They are smoked, then treated with nitrates, preservatives and various chemicals.
Therefore, it is important to distinguish between different types of meat:
- Processed meat: These products are usually from common-style cows, then under different processing methods. Examples include sausages and bacon.
- Regular red meat : Red meat is usually not processed, but cows are usually kept at the factory. Raw red meat is defined as "red" meat. These include lamb, beef, pork and some other meats.
- White meat : White meat when cooked is defined as "white" meat. Includes meat from poultry such as chicken and turkey.
- Meat from 100% grass, organic meat: This meat is derived from naturally nourished animals, without stimulants and hormones. Nor are there any artificial chemicals added.
When examining the impact on meat health, it is important to recognize that not all meats are created equal.
Meat studies, especially those conducted in the United States, mainly examine meat from farm animals that have been fed grain food.
Crux : Differentiating different types of meat is quite important. For example, meat from 100% grass and organic meat is very different from processed meat, or processed.
Red meat is very nutritious
Red meat is one of the most nutritious foods we can eat.
It contains various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other possible nutrients much impact to health.
One part of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw beef (10% fat) contains ( 3 ):
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 25% RDA.
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): 37% of RDA (this vitamin cannot be obtained from plant foods).
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 18% of RDA.
- Iron: 12% RDA (This is a high quality heme iron, better absorbed from plant iron).
- Zinc: 32% RDA.
- Selenium: 24% of RDA.
Besides, there are many other vitamins and minerals in this type of meat, but in smaller amounts.
This type of meat contains 176 calories, with 20 grams the protein animal and 10 grams of fat.
Red meat is also rich in important nutrients like Creatine and Carnosine. People who don't eat meat often lack these nutrients, which can have negative effects on many aspects of health, including muscle and brain function .
Grass-fed beef has even more nutrients than cereals, it contains a lot of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, fatty acids. along with many vitamins A and E .
Crux : Red meat is very nutritious, especially if it is derived from raised animals and fed natural food. This is a large source of proteins, iron, B12, zinc, creatine and various nutrients.
Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and death
The impact of red meat on health has been carefully studied.
However, most of these studies are called observational studies, which cannot prove the cause, but only a few are related.
There are several observational studies saying that red meat is associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and death .
However, considering larger studies with higher quality, they show that the effect of red meat decreases.
In an overall study of 20 studies involving a total of 1,218,380 individuals, processed meat was associated with a risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, No relation found with these diseases for unprocessed red meat .
In research a very large observational study of 448,568 individuals, processed meat increased the risk of death while with unprocessed red meat no effect .
When there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and death need to distinguish between processed and unprocessed meat because the two types can have very different effects.
Observational studies agree that meat Processing (not processed unprocessed red meat) is associated with an increased risk of premature mortality and many other illnesses.
But even so, it's important to keep in mind the limitations of these studies. The conclusions drawn from observational studies tend to be misleading. Only way to establish causes and effects is to conduct randomized controlled trials.
Crux : Some observational studies show a link between meat, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death. However, other studies show that linkages are only found for processed meat, not unprocessed red meat.
Does red meat increase the risk of cancer?
Many studies have observed that consumption of red meat is associated with an increased risk of cancer .
The main type of cancer that red meat causes is the third most widely known colorectal cancer in the world.
A common problem in these studies is that they seem to delve into studying processed meats along with unprocessed red meat, which is unacceptable.
Meta-analyzes that researchers analyze data from many studies show that the risk of colorectal cancer is very low. A meta-analysis showed weak impacts on men, but did not affect women .
Other studies show that it may not be the meat itself that is contributing to increased risk of disease, but harmful compounds that form when meat is cooked .
Therefore, cooking methods can be a major determinant of meat health impact.
Crux : Some observational studies show that people who eat red meat are at higher risk of cancer, but larger studies have more evidence to suggest that this effect is very weak and inconsistent.
Having correlation does not mean causality
Looking closely, almost all studies prove that harmful red meat is called observational studies.
These types of studies can only be proved between two variables there relate to.
They can tell us that people eat a lot of red meat There are many possibilities sick, but they CANNOT prove that red meat cause any impact.
One of the main problems with such studies is that they are hindered by various confounders.
For example, people who eat red meat (and everyone "knows" that red meat is bad, right?) Have less sense of health and are more likely to smoke, drink excessively, or eat more More sugar, less exercise, etc.
Health-conscious people behave differently than those without and can not adjust all these factors.
Another problem with these studies is that they often rely on food frequency questionnaires, making people remember what they have eaten in the past.
It would not be good to make health decisions based on observational studies. There are many cases in history, randomized controlled trials showing the exact opposite effect.
For example, the Nurses ’Health Study program has shown that estrogen replacement therapy helps reduce heart disease in women. Then, a randomized controlled experiment found that it was indeed increase heart disease .
Crux : Observation studies cannot be used to identify causes and effects. There are many confounding factors in such studies and the final higher quality studies often show the exact opposite effect.
Consider some randomized controlled experiments
Randomized controlled trials are of science.
In these studies, people were randomly assigned into groups. For example: one group ate Diet A, while the other group ate the B Diet.
Later, researchers tracked people and considered diets more likely to result in a specific outcome.
Unfortunately, I do not know any studies that examine red meat directly in such a way.
However, we have studied low-fat diets. These studies have the main goal of reduced saturated fat, which means that the number of people in the study must eat less red meat and processed meat, which is high in saturated fat.
The Women's Health Initiative (Women’s Health Initiative) is a study of more than 46,000 women. One group was instructed to eat a low-fat diet, while the other group continued to follow the Western standard diet.
After a period of 7.5 years, almost there is no difference (only 0.4 kg / 1 lb) between groups. There is also no difference in the rate of heart disease and cancer .
There is also a randomized controlled trial comparing the Atkins diet (high red meat) to the Ornish diet (low fat vegetarian diet without red meat). It is called weight loss study from A to Z .
After one year of study, the Atkins group lost much weight and had greater improvements in all the most important risk factors of the disease, although these effects were not always statistically significant.
There are also many other studies comparing diets low in carb (red meat) and low-fat diets (less red meat). In these studies, low-carb diets lead to better health outcomes .
Of course, these studies do not directly test red meat, there are many things going on that can affect the results.
Crux : Study a low-fat diet (less red meat) does not show signs of reducing cancer. Studies of low-carb diets (high in red meat) have remained virtually unchanged, leading to improved health outcomes.
Optimize red meat
When meat is cooked at high temperatures, it can form harmful compounds.
Some of these compounds include Ameter Heterocyclic (HAs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and final high-end products (AGCs).
These substances can cause cancer in animals.
If meat actually increases the risk of cancer (this is still the case) not proven) this may be the reason .
But this is not only true for meat, other foods can also form harmful compounds when overheated.
Here are some tips to make sure meat does not form these harmful compounds:
- Use gentle cooking methods like stews and steaming instead of grilling and frying.
- Reduce cooking at high temperatures and never leave meat exposed to flames.
- Do not eat burnt and / or smoked foods. If the meat is burnt, remove those parts.
- If marinated in garlic, red wine, lemon juice or olive oil, it can significantly reduce the toxicity of HCAs (heterocyclic amine).
- If you have to cook at a high temperature, turn over the meat often to avoid burning.
Must admit that grilled fried meat tastes great. I personally like the taste and texture of cooked meat.
But if you want to enjoy meat and get full benefits without any harmful consequences, use milder cooking methods and avoid burning meat.
Crux : To prevent the formation of hazardous substances when you cook meat, choose a mild cooking method and avoid burning meat.
Message for you
When looking back at scary strategies and sensational headlines, it's easy to recognize There are no controlled trials linking red meat to human disease.
Only observational studies were conducted, and these studies often did not separate red meat and processed meat.
The study also relies on food frequency questionnaires and can not be explained complex confounders such as health awareness.
Observation studies were conducted to create hypothesis is NOT to test them.
They cannot prove that red meat cause Anything and I personally find it uncertain because humans have eaten wildlife during evolution.
Only when you choose unprocessed red meat (preferably grass) and make sure to use softer cooking methods and avoid burnt / burning pieces, there is probably nothing to worry about.
In fact, I think unprocessed pork is really very healthy.
It is very nutritious and is full of healthy proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals along with various nutrients that positively affect the function of both the body and the brain.
In addition, cooked meat tastes good very delicious . Living and eating meat is definitely eating out of not eating them.