Even A Little Bit Of Meat Is Unhealthy
This finding comes from California’s Loma Linda University where researchers investigated the health effects of eating very small amounts of red and processed meat compared to never eating meat. Earlier studies compared eating higher amounts of red meat to low intakes, but until now, no research had looked at eating a little meat compared to eating none. The study included some 96,000 Seventh Day Adventist adults in the U.S. and Canada who were participating in an ongoing larger health study. Approximately half of Adventists don’t eat meat and those who do consume very small amounts.
The study participants described their diets on food frequency questionnaires, and the investigators noted that 90 percent of those who reported eating meat consumed only two ounces or less daily. Researchers then evaluated the deaths of 7,961 participants over 11 years, and results showed that 2,598 deaths were due to cardiovascular disease and 1,873 to cancer. They found that eating processed and red meat increased the risk of total death by 23 percent and of cardiovascular disease death by 34 percent. The researchers reported that processed meat alone wasn’t significantly associated with the deaths, possibly because only relatively few participants consumed it. But they found that red meat intake was associated with higher risks of total and cardiovascular disease deaths adding to earlier evidence showing that eating meat can negatively affect health and lifespan.
My take? I don’t believe anyone needs to eat red meat to be healthy. We can get the protein and essential fatty acids we need from other sources, such as wild-caught, cold-water fish; omega-3 rich eggs from free range poultry; and tofu, beans and nuts. If you do eat red meat, less is better than more, and grass-fed, grass-finished beef offers a far better omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profile than conventionally raised livestock, along with fewer potential contaminants and less fat.
Saeed Alshahrani et al “Red and Processed Meat and Mortality in a Low Meat Intake Population.” Nutrients, March 14, 2019, DOI: 10.3390/nu11030622
Also in this week’s bulletins:
- Walnuts May Slow Breast Cancer Growth
- Mobile Phones, Sleep & Productivity
- Recipe: True Food Kitchen’s Good Earth Kale Cobb