This is going to suck for all of you that refuse to go vegan or veg, but want to eat healthier; you need to quit red meat, ASAP. Sure, it’s full of vitamins (like B12), along with iron and zinc, but beyond that, the benefits dry up faster than a stick of beef jerky. In fact, science is showing more and more that red meat causes way more harm than good. And don’t just take our word for it, take the many experts who’ve done the research. Like who? Well, don’t go running off to Google because we’ve got a couple of them here for you to share their research and findings on why, when it comes to red meat, you need to fry it right out of your diet. And not to worry, we’ve got some replacements for you that, while you won’t find them at The Keg, they’ll satisfy you just as much as a juicy steak.
Red meat increases heart disease
Dr. Laura Smith, Clinical Dietitian at The University of Kansas has this to say about how red meats are dangerous to your health: “In general, red meats have more cholesterol and saturated fat than chicken, fish, and vegetable proteins such as beans. A cut of boneless, cooked steak—roughly the size of a deck of cards—has 93mg cholesterol and 17g of fat (6.6g of which are saturated), compared to a 4-oz. cooked salmon’s 62mg cholesterol and 7g of fat (1g of which is saturated). Both cholesterol and saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol, which can lead to or worsen heart disease. Furthermore, when the body processes high-cholesterol foods like red meat, it produces a compound called trimethylamine N-Oxide (TMAO). A study published in the journal Nature showed that increased levels of this compound lead to arterial blood clots, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. Fatty red meats, including ground beef and prosciutto, are the likeliest to lead to such problems.”
Red meat can cause cancer
Here’s Dr. Norman Hensrud out of Stanford University with his findings on the dangers of red meat: “Studies have demonstrated that increasing red meat, and particularly processed meat consumption—like bacon or hot dogs—is related to increasing colorectal cancers. The trigger is suspected to be heme iron, found only in meat (and highest in red meats), that may play a role in the production of cell-damaging, cancer-causing compounds.
Red meat causes inflammation
“Meat contains several compounds, like saturated fat and [high levels of] iron, that promote the detrimental process [of inflammation],” says Dr. Laura Smith. “Inflammation can occur in various parts of the body very gradually, and often times, asymptomatic. After years of steady buildup, this chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, stroke, cancer, and even arthritis.”
Red meat is linked to diabetes
A recent major study combining data from nearly 200,000 participants over the past two decades confirmed that people who increased their intake of red meat over time also increased their risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 62 percent. “The link may be more related to obesity,” says Dr. Laura Smith, “since high consumption is a risk factor for obesity, and obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.”
Too much meat can pork you up
In a recent article in the International Journal of Obesity, the data showed that if you eat just 5 ounces of red meat per a day, you are 29 percent more likely to become obese than those who consume lean proteins, and 37 percent likelier to have central obesity (stomach fat that progressively leads towards diabetes and cardiovascular disease).
Red meat shortens your life span
Don’t be the guy whose friends say at his funeral, “He died doing what he loved: Eating hot dogs.” Be the guy who opts for lean or plant-based proteins instead. Studies have shown that you’ll lower your risk of death due to red meat. Mortality rates due to red meat are currently higher than they’ve ever been, and especially highest for those with other unhealthy lifestyle factors—such as; smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity.
Livestock harms the environment
“Livestock, especially cattle, produce methane (CH4) as part of their digestion,” notes Dr. Laura Smith. “This process represents almost one third of the harmful emissions from the agriculture sector.” We’ll skip the fart jokes and just cut to the 11 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions is because of these gassy cows, fact.
Now that you’ve gotten the memo on how bad red meat is for you, let’s look at some of the healthy alternatives with Palinski-Wade, R.D. author of the book “Belly Fat Diet For Dummies”. “Although bison looks and tastes similar to red meat, it’s quite low in saturated fat and calories. Bison is more on a par with chicken breast than steak as a 4-oz. cut has just 2g of fat.”
“Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s recommended to eat 3 ounces of fish two to three times per week, as these omega-3s have been linked to a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. The high-quality protein also helps you to feel satisfied long after eating,” says Palinski-Wade. “This may aid in weight management,” she adds.
“White-meat chicken is a great way to meet your daily protein needs with less saturated fat and calories than red meat,” says Palinski-Wade. “Poultry is also very versatile and can be incorporated into [traditionally beefy] recipes like chili and stir fries. Remove the skin for the lowest overall intake of fat and calories.”
Black Bean burgers
It should come as no surprise that black bean burgers are a protein-rich, vegetarian-friendly replacement for red meat burgers. One black bean patty has just 12g of protein and 3.8g of fat, of which only 0.5g is saturated fats. The best part; there’s next-to-no cholesterol. Palinski-Wade, however, offers one warning with this—or any veggie burger: “Pre-made veggie burgers can often be high in sodium, so make sure to read the labels. Aim to choose a burger with less than 400mg of sodium per serving. If you choose one that is higher, just avoid adding additional sources of sodium to your meal, such as by adding slices of cheese, and swap it instead for a slice of avocado or vegetables.”