Controversy about the benefits and harms of eating red meat does not fade both among nutritionists and among people looking for an individual healthy diet. These controversies are fueling more and more diets - whether it's a raw food diet, a high-fat diet with a sharp restriction of carbohydrates (keto diet), avoiding eating any food of animal origin (veganism) or more lenient options in the form of excluding only meat from the diet (moderate vegetarianism). We figured out whether red meat is so harmful to the body and whether it is worth resorting to such radical measures as its complete exclusion from the diet, together with an endocrinologist, a dietitian at the SM-Clinic clinic, Ph. D. Ulyana Rumyantseva.
Meat and cancer
Red meat is the meat of mammals, that is, pork, veal, beef, lamb, lamb, goat and horse meat. Scientists have conducted more than one study to find out whether eating it is harmful to health. For example, it turned out that the regular presence of red meat in the diet increases the risk of developing colon cancer, but this risk was not high enough to recommend people to completely abandon mammalian meat. It was considered “probably carcinogenic” because no statistically proven association was found.
Also questionable is the relationship of pancreatic and prostate cancer with eating red meat - there is no scientific evidence for this yet, since it is incredibly difficult to quantify this risk, but such attempts have been made. According to some studies, eating 100 grams of red meat daily increases the risk of colon cancer by 17%.
On the other hand, it is impossible to say exactly how much red meat is absolutely harmless to health - at least, research in this direction has not yet been carried out. How exactly the mechanism of the carcinogenic effect of meat works has not yet been reliably found out, but research on this issue continues. For example, scientists suggest that carcinogenicity is influenced by various chemicals that get into meat during its processing, storage and cooking, as well as when animals eat contaminated plant foods that grow in ecologically unfavorable areas.
Red meat and excess weight
In addition to the potential risk of bowel, pancreatic and prostate cancer, red meat can pose other problems. So, it contains a lot of fats and sodium, which can lead to excess weight gain and negatively affect the work of the cardiovascular system, that is, cause obesity, increased blood pressure, the level of "bad" cholesterol in the blood and the appearance of cholesterol plaques on the walls of blood vessels (atherosclerosis) (read also: "7 facts about cholesterol that you did not know (or did not take seriously)").
The meat of which animals is considered more harmful and which ones are less harmful has not yet been precisely determined. There were attempts to compare pork and beef meat, as well as meat products (sausages, sausages, ham, sausages), but no significant differences were found. We also studied the effect of heat treatment on the degree of carcinogenicity of meat. Indeed, when protein comes into contact with high temperatures during frying, some carcinogens are formed, which again can further increase the risk of developing cancer, but their role has not yet been fully understood.
As for meat products (sausages, etc.), enough data has accumulated on them to assert that their consumption leads to a higher risk of cancer, and not only of the large intestine, but also of the stomach. Therefore, scientists attribute them not to the group of "probably carcinogenic" substances, but to "carcinogenic products." This is due to the fact that, in addition to meat, meat products also contain other components that are harmful to humans, such as preservatives, flavorings, stabilizers, flavor enhancers, food colors. Of course, all of this leads to additional health risks. But statistically, this has not yet been proved, that is, it is currently believed that the risk of developing intestinal cancer when eating meat and meat products is approximately the same.
The benefits of red meat
Speaking about the potential dangers of red meat, one should also mention its beneficial properties for the body, because red meat is rich in protein, which plays an important role in ensuring normal metabolism, on which the volume of muscle mass depends. Meat is also a source of iron, zinc, phosphorus and B vitamins. All these substances are necessary for the body to maintain the normal functioning of internal organs, including the nervous and endocrine systems.
That is why quite often when switching to a vegetarian and, moreover, a vegan diet, people begin to suffer from anemia (due to iron deficiency) or nervous disorders (due to a lack of B vitamins, which "feed" the nervous tissue). Therefore, those who practice vegetarianism and veganism need to monitor their health no less carefully than meat-eaters in order to avoid a deficiency of vitamins and trace elements that cannot be obtained from plant foods, and take timely measures to replenish them (for example, take various multivitamin mineral complexes) (see also: " How to choose the right vitamins? ").
About the author:
Ulyana Viktorovna Rumyantseva
Photo: Getty Images
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