Health Benefits of Eating Red Meat – Positive and Negative effects

Health Benefits of Red Meat

Red meat is any meat that has more myoglobin than white meat like chicken. The meat contains large amounts of creatine, mineral such as zinc and phosphorus as well as riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and vitamin B 12 which is essential for making DNA and keeping the nerves and red blood cells healthy. Lean red meats are among the best dietary sources of high quality protein. They are also the richest source of antioxidants like lipoic acid, zinc and iron and especially heme iron that is easy for the body to absorb. But all good things come with a price.

Red Meat and Diseases: Red meat has many negative effects on the body leading to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of red meat leads to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, bowel cancer,  oesophageal, pancreatic, stomach, endometrial, lung and bladder cancer. Red meat consumption also increases the levels of serum cholesterol and TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) which promotes atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. And that’s not all, it is also one of the major causes of type 2 diabetes.

Why Is It Hazardous: One of the most common explanations for so many ill effects associated with red meat id the fact that toxic nitrogenous products are released during the digestion of this meat. These products lead to an increased risk of developing CRC when consuming large amounts of red meat and in particular processed red meat. Also, lipid and protein components of red meat during digestion produce products which cause oxidative stress and induce DNA damage due to their highly reactive nature. The iron content in meat is said to be the main promoter of the peroxidation and nitrosation pathway.

The toxic effect of iron on human cells is higher with a diet containing high fat content like in contrary, a lean beef diet has been associated with a decrease in colon cancer. Nitrates and nitrites found in processed meat like ham, salami and sausages are converted into nitrosamines that can be carcinogenic, causing tumorigenesis that will eventually lead t cancers. Nitrite salt is widely used as a curing agent in meat products for color, to inhibit outgrowth of bacteria and to delay rancidity. And these agents have been associated with cancer.

Moderation and Unprocessed is Key: A study conducted on the effect of processed meat like bacon or salami on the heart shows that the use of salt and preservative leads to diabetes and heart diseases, but the same cannot be said about unprocessed meats like pork, veal and lamb. The amount of meat one can consume depends on an individual’s protein needs. Experts believe that eating 300gams of red meat per week is sufficient to get its benefits. However, it is important to choose lean red meat cuts, use the right marinades and avoid overcooking the meat to enjoy the health benefits it has to offer. So, as opposed to popular belief, consumption of red meat does not have to be completely stopped but can be eaten in moderation.

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