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What Amount of Red Meat Should We Eat?

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 What Amount of Red Meat Should We Eat?

Red meat ranks top for its iron content and it is easily absorbed by the body, compared to the iron found in plant sources such as nuts, leafy greens and legumes.

Iron is an essential element of hemoglobin, and carries oxygen around the body. An iron deficiency means less oxygen is delivered to the cells, leading to susceptibility to infections, fatigue and reduced workout efforts.

Red meat also contains a number of key nutrients including protein (crucial for muscle growth and repair), B vitamins (essential to unlock energy), zinc (required for many maintenance jobs including strengthening the immune system), and omega-3 fats (the heart healthy type).

Not Created Equal
By red meat, we’re talking about the fresh, unprocessed kind such as beef, veal, lamb, pork and even game meat. Processed meat though is a different story. This refers to any meat that is preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives (e.g. nitrite). These foods are often high in both saturated fat and salt and provide very little in the way of vitamins and minerals. Think bacon, sausages, ham and salami.

What Does the Research Indicate?
The latest research from the World Health Organization says that processed meats rank alongside tobacco as cancer causing and also raise the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. The WHO though makes it clear that risk is in relation to how much and how frequently these meats are consumed.

How Much is Safe?
Current national dietary guidelines recommend individuals who eat red meat limit processed varieties and consume no more than 26 ounces a week. This is enough red meat to help us reach our requirements for iron and zinc, while keeping us below the threshold for increase in cancer risk.

Reducing the amount of processed meat you eat isn’t as difficult as you may think. Try using poached chicken for sandwiches instead of ham, or throw a steak on the BBQ rather than sausages. Even better, introduce more fish such as salmon or tuna into your weekly diet.

Conclusion? Eat leaner meats.
While there’s still room for the occasional slice of bacon or hot dogs on the BBQ, the latest advice should only help you be more aware of the risks associated with excessive intakes, which includes the amounts red and processed meats. A good guide is to stick to the size of the palm of your hand and ensure that half of your plate is veggies.

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