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Red and Processed Meats

by ADMIN on JULY 1, 2011

I actually don’t cook with beef that often. First, I’m not that good at it. Second, nutrition recommendations are to eat red and fatty meats only one to two times per week tops (read: less than 11 oz total for the week) , and very little, if any, processed meats per week; as stated by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Red and fatty meat includes: beef, lamb, pork (it’s not the “other white meat” according to the USDA), and poultry with the skin on. Processed meats include: bacon, sausage, pepperoni, pre-packaged-sliced meats and deli meats.

Why these limits? Because people in the United States eat a SAD diet (Standard American Diet) – which means the majority of Americans eat diets high in animal fats (saturated), trans fats (man-made unhealthy fats), low in fiber, high in processed foods, low in plant-based foods.

It is rather SAD, isn’t it?

An overabundance of saturated fat has been linked to higher risk of heart disease. Also, processed meats are typically high in sodium (another nutrient, if eaten in excess, that may increase risk of heart disease and high blood pressure) and have chemical preservatives that have been linked to the development of certain cancers.

{Side note: Some recent theories have surfaced stating that saturated fats from animal meats may not be as bad for our health as the original studies demonstrated. But this is still up for debate and not yet a proven scientific fact. So for now, it’s still imperative for the majority of the population to reduce the amounts of these foods in their diet, especially since they are eaten in such amounts that nutrient dense foods such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains are being reduced.}

With that said, red meat also has some nutritional benefits. It’s an excellent source of highly absorbable iron – much better used by our bodies than iron found in vegetables – as well as phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, and B vitamins such as niacin, B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.

Just as an aside, both B vitamins and iron are difficult to get enough of for someone following a vegetarian diet. If you are vegetarian or vegan, be sure to check if the protein substitutes you’re eating (such as tempeh, tofu, and other meat analogs), are fortified with these nutrients. It is absolutely possible to get enough, just be aware of your food choices.

So what about our household? While we do eat red meat occasionally, it’s probably only about once a month. Sometimes I really crave it! But in general I would consider myself a Flexitarian – I eat everything, but have days where I’m a complete vegetarian and then other days where I eat fish or poultry. I’m flexible.

What kind of eating pattern do you follow?


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