Unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian, red meat is probably one of your favorite proteins! It’s rich, filling, and so wonderfully delicious. Whether you cook it in pasta, make it into a stew, or eat it as a delicious steak, you can’t help but love it.
There are a lot of good things about meat:
It can protect your heart –– Contrary to what you may have once heard, red meat (in moderation) can actually be heart-smart! A portion of 4 to 6 ounces of beef per day can help to reduce LDL cholesterol, reducing your risk of arterial narrowing, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. It can also help to increase HDL cholesterol, which scavenges bad cholesterol from your body. Thanks to the oleic and stearic acids in red meat, it’s a cholesterol-killing food if consumed in moderation.
It can boost your mood — Did you know that eating red meat (not just beef, but lamb and pork as well) can boost your mood? People who eat meat are 50% less likely to suffer from anxiety and depressive disorders than people who don’t. Thanks to the high Omega-3 fatty acid content of red meat (particularly grass-fed beef), your brain gets all the nutrients it needs to produce the neurochemicals that keep your emotions stable.
It’s packed with protein — Pound for pound, red meat is one of the best sources of protein. Not only does it contain all nine amino acids needed to build muscle, but it’s also one of the few sources of certain B vitamins that will do wonders for your metabolism. The truth is that red meat is one of the best options for those who are trying to get fit or pack on the pounds of muscle.
Of course, there are also a few downsides to meat:
It’s high in calories — A single serving of red meat contains quite a hefty amount of calories–almost twice what you’d get from a serving of chicken breast, legumes, or even dairy products. Here is the caloric value of your favorite red meats:
Note: *The values are given for 100 grams (3.5 oz) cooked.
If you’re trying to follow a diet to manage your weight, red meat is a fairly high-calorie option. The more fat the meat, the better the quality, but also the higher the calorie content. It’s not the best diet-friendly option.
It may increase risk of death — A number of studies have linked high red meat consumption with an increased mortality rate. Even just one serving of red meat (3 ounces) can raise your risk of death by up to 13%. If that meat is processed (like beef sausages), the risk increases by 20%.
It may lead to cancer — This is only if it’s cooked wrong, but it’s still something you need to be aware of! When you grill meat, the fatty drippings hit the fire and turn into chemicals called HCAs. These chemicals float back up on the smoke, and are absorbed into the cooking meat. They can be toxic and may lead to an increased risk of cancer. If the meat blackens, it’s also an indication that the meat contains carcinogens. However, proper cooking can help to reduce the risk of health problems.
Red meat is a bit of a mixed bag, truth be told. Some people swear by it and have it as one of their primary proteins, while others prefer to avoid it. Now that you understand the pros and cons of meat, it’s up to you to decide if it’s a good option for your diet menu or not!