Red Meat and Your Health
It’s almost time for Spring Break, and in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Mexico, I have been attempting to slim down a bit. Since I started my new workout plan at the beginning of 2012, I also decided to eat healthier as well. While my mother is a health/physical education teacher, I had never done much research on nutrition and the importance of diet when you are trying to get into better physical shape. The obvious changes: cutting out pop, eating less sweets, and trying to eat more fruits/vegetables came to mind first and I easily put those dietary guidelines in place. The not-so-obvious change I came across in my research was the importance of limiting the amount of red meat in my diet
I love a good cheeseburger, steak, plate of bacon, etc. Who doesn’t? But after my research on red meat, I have found that I do not love those foods as much as I once thought. While all red meat is not inherently horrible for you, eating large amounts of it increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes. A “large amount” is defined as more than the size of a deck of cards for unprocessed red meat and about two-thirds of a deck a cards for processed red meet. Unprocessed red meat (beef, hamburger, pork, lamb, game) is definitely the better of the two. When eaten in excess, it raises the risk of diabetes much more than the risk of heart disease, but not by a significant amount. Processed red meat (bacon, salami, sausage, luncheon meats) are where things start getting really unhealthy. Eating the two-thirds a deck of cards sized portion once a day increases your risk of heart disease by 42% and your risk of diabetes by 19%. While the risks are not huge, red meat in excess (or at all) can increase your risk of diet related health problems.
While I am far from saying you should not eat a good rib-eye from time to time, I am saying those times should be few and fairly far between. Red meat increases cholesterol and sodium levels, contain saturated fat and nitrates (as a preservative), and do little for your overall health. While meat does contain protein, which is very important in the body, protein can be ascertained from other foods (beans, nuts, white meats). I have seen since pretty much cutting red meat out of my diet that I feel healthier and I have also lost weight faster than I normally have in the past. So next time you consider eating a 12 oz steak (which is about 3 times your daily amount of meat recommended), think about all the health complications that might come with it.