For many Americans, their meat-eating habits are becoming a concern – especially when it comes to red meat. With so many advocates for vegan and vegetarian diets and campaigns to eat less meat, it’s hard not to question our carnivorous ways. But maybe that’s a good thing.
Meat isn’t inherently bad. In fact, it can be healthy as there are many nutrients we can gain from it such as iron, protein and essential amino acids. But where the concern rises is in the amount of meat we eat, how much fat it contains, and what kind of quality it is.
So what kind of meat should we be eating? Poultry and fish are traditionally the leanest options. Some types of fish provide highly-beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. And chicken is typically very lean making it a healthy option for those wanting to keep meat in their lives, as long as it isn’t fried.
A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health focuses on eating unprocessed red meat like hamburger, roast beef, lamb and pork as well as processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, bologna and sausage. The results of the study show that having one serving per day of unprocessed meat can increase your risk for death by cardiovascular disease by as much as 18 percent. Taking in one serving of processed meat per day can increase that risk by as much as 21 percent. There have been numerous studies conducted previously that have linked high consumption of red meat and processed meats to various cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and early death. “This new study provides further compelling evidence that high amounts of red meat may boost the risk of premature death,” said An Pan, lead author of the study.
It is important to also note that this particular study focuses on association, and the results don’t specifically mean causation. Data was collected on the health and deaths of 37,698 men and 83,644 women. Throughout the study, those that were being analyzed filled out questionnaires on their diet every four years. Over two decades during the follow-up period, 5,910 participants died from heart disease while 9,464 died from cancer. This study does show some direct association between eating high amounts of red meat and unprocessed meat on your health. When preparing your food, moderation is the key.
Leave it up to science to give you one more reason to make healthier food choices. A new study published in the British Journal of Cancer shows a link between eating processed meat with increased risk for pancreatic cancer.
Data from 11 trials and over 6,000 pancreatic cancer patients was analyzed and researchers concluded the following:
- Eating 50 grams of processed meat daily – the equivalent of one sausage and two pieces of bacon—raised a person’s risk by 19 percent
- Eating an extra 100 grams increased the risk by 38 percent
Pancreatic cancer is ranked as the fourth most common cause of cancer death across the globe. It’s extremely hard to diagnose and when it is discovered, the patient is usually in the late stages. Survival rates are poor, 95 percent of its victims die within five years of diagnosis.
While some doctors have suggested that consuming hot dogs might raise your risk of developing colorectal cancer, Harvard researchers recently reported processed red meat like bacon and hot dogs raises the risk of Type 2 diabetes. According to an article in the New York Times, replacing just one serving per day of processed red meat with nuts or low-fat dairy can lower the risk of disease.
The study analyzed 300,000 people ages 25 to 75, including three groups of male and female health professionals and looked at their eating and health habits dating to 1976.
Overall, researchers discovered that eating just 50 grams a day of processed meat — one hot dog or sausage, for example, or a little more than two strips of bacon — increased the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 51 percent.
Instead of chowing down on bacon, sausage, bologna or ham, medical professionals recommend limiting consumption of processed red meats and instead selecting a low-fat dairy product, a serving of whole grains or a serving of fish or poultry.
July 2, 2011 brought about another first for the infamous cycling event, the Tour de France. In its 107-year history, cyclists have experimented with a multitude of options to better their chances at taking on the steep mountains and rigorous course. From diets full of red meat and carbs to even using cigarettes as a tactic, nearly everything has been attempted by the athletes. However, American cyclist David Zabriskie tried something no one else ever had. Zabriskie showed up to the starting line, planning on his vegan diet to carry him to victory.
While so many people practice a vegetarian or vegan diet, why was Zabriskie’s diet news? His no meat, dairy, or egg diet seems so radical due to the demands his sport puts on his body. Most cyclists eat plenty of meat and diary to help muscle recovery. The iron in red meat helps the body produce hemoglobin which helps transport oxygen to the muscles.
So why would any athlete of Zabriskie’s caliber do such a thing? Zabriskie has a medical reason, stating that blood tests showed some food sensitivities that meant while most athletes would benefit from red meat, that meat would take too much energy for Zabriskie to digest.
In less than one year from now we could be reading the food review of the world’s first in vitro hamburger. Yes, you read that right.
As an answer to our globe’s growing population and increasing meat consumption, scientists in the Netherlands are very close to debuting their meat grown from stem cells of healthy cows. The scientists have been working to grow muscle tissue from a small number of stem cells they’ve extracted from the cattle.
As awkward as this process sounds, the researchers believe it’s going to be beneficial for the world. As the trends lead us to believe that the world’s meat consumption is expected to double by the year 2050, this man-made meat will be able to be produced without the need for livestock.
When you envision a grilled steak, you typically imagine a huge, marbled cut of meat full of saturated fat and cholesterol. With the summer grilling season in full swing, it’s important to be able to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation.
Kari Underly of Range Partners is a third generation meat cutter and offered us some of her top tips on choosing and preparing the proper cuts of steak for your summer cookouts.
“It’s so important for grocery stores and chefs to know how to sell various cuts of steak,” said Underly. “The proper portion of steak is 3-4 ounces and a lot of cuts have multiple portions in one steak. The average consumer has know way of knowing any better.”
High in zinc, iron and protein, a moderately sized steak is nutritionally dense and can be very good for you if you choose the right cut and cook it well.
With the recent announcement that the food pyramid will be replaced by the new MyPlate icon, Americans are more aware than ever that it’s time to start eating their vegetables.
While the plate icon offers a visual, user-friendly guide to help people make better food choices, some of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, like eating more fish, beans and whole grains, are not addressed.
Before you start cooking dinners based on MyPlate, keep the size of your plate in mind and check your portion sizes. According to the Mayo Clinic, reasonable portion sizes include:
- One serving of protein should be three to six ounces (three for women, six for men) and about the size of a deck of playing cards.
- One serving of whole grains should be the equivalent of one slice of bread, 1/3 cup brown rice or 1/2 cup whole-wheat pasta.
- One serving of dairy is equivalent to an 8 ounce glass of milk or 1 ounce cheese (about the size of four dice).
- One serving of fruit and vegetables should be approximately 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw.
North Carolina may be a red state politically, but many meat eaters are blue in the face crying foul over a state ban on rare burgers in restaurants. The state now requires restaurants to cook their hamburgers to a temperature of 155 degrees, which health officials say is enough to kill unhealthy bacteria such as E. coli.
While North Carolina’s citizens are still allowed to eat their hamburgers anyway they wish at home, restaurants can’t go any lower than medium on the cooking chart. Word has it that this legislation has created somewhat of an underground red meat-eating movement, a bit like the speakeasies of Prohibition days, I suppose.
North Carolina restaurants can still serve steaks rare to customers since they don’t pose the same threat as ground meat. If contaminants exist on a piece of steak they are usually on the outside and killed during the cooking process. However, when beef is ground up the bacteria is mixed inside.
My name is Theresa and I am a beefaholic.
I love cheeseburgers, steaks, prime rib and plain old ground beef with rice. The strange part about this is that I used to be completely appalled by it. Slaughtered cows that are fed hormones and steroids, breed disease and systematically pump fat into my diet did not sound like a good idea. Besides the fact that I didn’t enjoy the taste of red meat, I was completely grossed-out by the thought of eating it. I did eat chicken, eggs and seafood on occasion, but I largely led a vegetarian lifestyle. I guess I would have called myself a selective vegetarian.
My view on meat changed about 4 years ago where I became obsessed. Give me a cheeseburger and watch me lose myself in ecstasy. Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but seriously, for a girl that hated meat, I’m talking about drastic change. Regardless of the fact that I developed a taste for red meat, I still understood the nutritional drawbacks of having it in my diet. Thank goodness someone told me about buffalo meat! (more…)