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Red meat: nutrient benefits and costs

Published: January 04, 2019

Red meat contains several essential nutrients
Red meat contains several essential nutrients

Red meat has been a dietary favourite, if not staple, for millions of people around the world for many years.

Changes in production methods since the mid 20th century in many western societies have lead to ample supplies available at relatively low cost.
In North America consumption of red meat has increased significantly as has the incidence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity.
In the search to determine causal agents of these adverse health conditions, red meat has been cited as a possible agent.
While red meat may not be directly associated with increased risk there is increasing scientific evidence to suggest that various components/nutrients in red meat may contribute to physiological conditions which increase your risk for developing these life altering conditions.
Research concerning nutrition and disease can be confusing and research results from different studies are sometimes contradictory.
There are also environmental concerns about the health of livestock and how their production impacts the environment.
What is red meat?
Determining what red meat is can be confusing.
Traditionally, and from a gastronomic perspective, red meat refers to darker coloured meat contrasted to lighter coloured white meat.
The meet from cattle, sheep, horses, and presumably goats, is commonly regarded as red meat, with the exception of the meat from calves, lambs and pigs fed with milk which is considered white meat.
In general, the meat from poultry, fish and rabbit is regarded as white meat, but duck and goose may be considered red meat.  Game meats are not included in these descriptions.
Lentils are an alternative choice for protein
Lentils are an alternative choice for protein
From a nutritional perspective red meat has historically been determined by the concentration of myoglobin present in the meat.
Myoglobin is a protein found in mammalian muscles and in the tissue of most vertebrates. This protein binds to iron and oxygen and is related to haemoglobin which is the protein that binds iron and oxygen in blood.
Meat that has a higher concentration of myoglobin is defined as red meat, while meat with...link to the full article to learn more.

Related Topics

Diet  Health  Food Choices  Cooking Methods  Nutrients 


Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
Wikipedia: Red meat
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