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You Ask, I Answer: Red Meat Consumption

raw-meat-1This past weekend, one of my family members said that the consensus among nutritionists is that people should not eat any red meat.

It sounds too extreme to be true, but I thought I would check with you.

— Steve Hamilton
(City withheld), KY

What your family member said is indeed extreme — and incorrect.

Does the presence of red meat make a diet healthier than one devoid of it?  Absolutely not.

Do you need to shun red meat entirely in order to have a healthy diet?  Nope.

That said, a good number of strong studies have indicated a link between high consumption of red meat and higher risks of heart disease and certain cancers (what is still being researched is whether there is an intrinsic component in meat that causes this, or if this risk increase is simply because diets rich in red meat are usually low in fiber and vegetable intake).

The general consensus is that consumption of red meat should not exceed 18 ounces per week.

I am often asked, “Is [insert name of food here] bad for you?”

My usual response? “Depends.  How do you cook it, how often do you eat it, and how much of it do you eat?”

A six-ounce steak once a week is very different from a steady diet of hamburgers, roast beef sandwiches, and cheesesteaks.



  1. coco said on September 2nd, 2009

    good point. it all depends on the quality of the meat and how you cook it.
    Aside of that, for people who doesn’t like and can’t digest well red meat…. is it necessary to at least have some red meat? like once a month to get iron? I often hear that the best iron source best absorbed by our body is from red meat, so woman, especially needs red met. is that true?

  2. Debbie said on September 2nd, 2009

    I read this morning that the cow’s diet (corn & byproducts vs. grass) can have an effect on the levels of saturated fat and & omega 3. Along with all the antibiotic and disease issues, it’s probably wise to at least be choosy about the red meat we eat.

  3. Andy Bellatti said on September 2nd, 2009

    That is indeed true. You can see what I wrote about that after a screening of King Corn in October of 2007: http://smallbites.andybellatti.com/?p=1494

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