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:
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.