Why is Red Meat Bad For You?

Red Meat

red meat
red meat | Source

About Meat

Though meat has been consumed since primitive times, it was vastly different then, than what it is today. Animals back then foraged on grass, insects, etc, in fact, on all things natural, unlike today, when they are born and raised unnaturally. and fed antibiotics and hormones, to increase their survival rate and production.

Today this meat is also processed heavily after slaughtering, and various preservatives and chemicals are added to make it more palatable and increase its shelf life.

Therefore, the meat we get today is far inferior in quality, to the unprocessed and natural meat that our ancestors ate.

This, to a great extent, is the reason, meat eaters back then did not suffer from the range of maladies and diseases that many meat eaters today suffer from.

What Is Red Meat?

Those meats which are red or dark in color in their raw state are red meats. The meat of beef, lamb and pork are among those considered red meat.

However, meat of a young pig, ie, a suckling pig, is considered white. The same rule applies to lamb and veal.

Red meat contains more myoglobin than white meat. Myoglobin is the iron and oxygen binding protein found in the muscles of all veterbrates and mammals. It is similar to hemoglobin which is its equivalent found in the blood, especially, the red blood cells.

In humans, myoglobin is only found in the blood after a muscle is injured.

Grilling Sausages

sausages being barbecued
sausages being barbecued | Source

Red Meat Is Bad For You

Red Meat & Diabetes

Red Meat & Cancer

Pink Slime Health Risks

Why Is Red Meat Bad For You?

Though red meat is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants & other nutrients, with the meat of grass fed animals being even more nutritious, the fact is that red meat is:

  • High in saturated fat & cholesterol

This raises blood cholesterol levels and high cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease.

Added to this is the fact that red meat (in fact, meat) not only makes the blood vessels hard and rigid, thereby reducing their flexibility but also causes clogging of the arteries as per a study published in the Nature Medicine Journal.

The causative culprit is the compound Carnitine, (also added to some enrgy drinks), which is converted to trimethylamine-N-oxide which facilitates cholesterol deposition in arteries which damages the heart. Increased levels of carnitine thus directly increase the risk of heart disease.

  • Red meat consumption reduces lifespan

It has been found in a study by the Harvard School of Public Health that red meat consumption increases the risk of a reduced lifespan.

Processed red meats like salami, hot dogs and the like are the worst culprits. It has been found that when meats are charred or barbecued, the toxic nitrosamines are produced. These increase the risk of cancer as well.

  • Pork Slime - a risky additive

Pork Slime, also called lean finely textured beef (LFTB), made of beef trimmings, is a meat additive added to ground beef and other processed meat. The process of making pink slimeis fraught with health dangers as it increases the chances of bacteria getting into the food and then into your body.

  • Fillets - not safe either

Scrap meat pieces are glued together with transglutaminase, an enzyme that is produced from bacteria by fermentation. When you realize that the more the number of different meat pieces that are needed to make a fillet, it is easy to realize that a greater number of animals contribute to that fillet thus effectively raising the risk of contamination & disease.

Diseases like E.coli, which can cause severe gastrointestinal issues, increase as the number of animals that contribute to the ground beef increases.

  • Heme iron - risks

Red meat, and other meat as well, contains heme iron, the form of iron which produces compounds that can damage cells and cause cancer.

A report published by JAMA Internal Medicine concludes that regular red meat or processed meat consumption increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
It was found that those who consumed 3.5 ounces of red meat daily, this translates to having 1 hot dog or 2 bacon slices everyday, increased their risk factor by 19% or 51% respectively.

  • High iron risks

Meat is high in iron. Excess iron in brain increases the risk of Alzheimer's, as per a study from UCLA.

The excess iron in brain destroys myelin, the safety coating of nerve fibers, thus upsetting brain communication.

In people with hereditary or family history of cancer, red processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

The hormones added to read meat raise breast cancer risk as per a study on more than 90000 women indicate. This report was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

To Conclude

It should suffice to say that though saturated fat and cholesterol are but a small part of the dangers associated with red meat consumption, in combination with other factors, like processing, excess iron, sodium nitrates, hormones, antibiotics and others this raises the risk to health of those who either are heavy red meat eaters or consume it on a daily basis.

If at all you cannot avoid eating it you can

  • go for the comparatively healthier lean meat cuts
  • consume it just a few times a week
  • reduce the portion size
  • avoid processed meats completely
  • avoid high temperature cooking like barbecuing, smoking & grilling.
  • combine meat with fresh veggies, whole grains & fruit

References

  • http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1697785
  • http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/Red-meat-and-colon-cancer.shtml
  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11316316/Red-meat-triggers-toxic-immune-reaction-which-causes-cancer-scientists-find.html
  • http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/the-secrets-out-the-reason-red-meat-is-so-bad-for-our-health/
  • https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/red-meat-heart-disease-link-involves-gut-microbes
  • http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-study-suggests-that-iron-247864
  • http://www.medicaldaily.com/red-meat-could-give-you-cancer-world-health-organization-says-358750
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15072585
  • http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17101944
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8162586
  • http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/97/12/906.short

© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly

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Comments 21 comments

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

I used to be an avid consumer of red meat but stopped cold turkey in 1995 because I wanted to give up the meat of one animal and that was the most impactful decision personally for me. On the extremely rare occasion when I am accidentally served red meat (e.g., on a pizza that was not as it was ordered) I can taste it, as it tastes bloody to me. This was an excellent hub highlighting the health impacts of the choice. Bravo!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

This is a tough sell in the United States. It might be easier to ban guns in this country than to convince Americans to give up their meat. LOL Everything you say is true, but Americans and hamburgers.....I just don't see that anti-meat campaign gaining traction here.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 4 months ago from london

Very interesting article. I feel that many people know this one and it has been highlighted so many times! Great and good of you to bring it to the surface once more in such a lucid and cohesive manner. Om Shanti!


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 months ago from California

Eating well is such a tricky business. I have been reading about eating to your blood type. It is my belief that some people should almost never eat red meat and others should eat it regularly. I whole heartedly agree the quality of meat is important. Organic is best


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 months ago

We try to keep our consumption of red meat to a minimum, preferring fish and poultry in general. Good information to have on this meat option.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@Flourish, eating meat or not is a personal choice. My hub was just to bring to the fore the ill effects of red meat. I stopped eating meat long ago, red, white or otherwise and it just does not agree with my system anymore. I'm glad you like the hub. Thanks!

@Bill, I fully agree with you my friend. This was a reminder with some links thrown in though I'm aware most people know about it. Appreciate your stopping by.

@manatita bro, you are so very right. To each his own though. Just wanted to give a shoutout. Thank you & God bless.

@tireless traveller, eating healthy is not only tricky but quite difficult for most of us. Organic is the best option at the moment.

@teaches, you are doing just right in opting for the best option. It's okay to indulge once in a way. Thanks for visiting.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 months ago from The Caribbean

Myoglobin in blood only after injury is news to me, and "Red meat consumption reduces lifespan" shouldn't need much argument. Thanks for the information and warning.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

MsDora myoglobin is present in muscle and is released into bloodstream following an muscle injury/damage. Thanks for reading.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

A well-researched hub, Rajan. I eat a lot less red meat then I used to, but still enjoy ordering a steak if I go to a restaurant occasionally. These days, we tend to eat more fish and chicken along with fruit and vegetables.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

An occasional indulgence is okay John. Good to know you eat more of the healthier stuff. Thanks for reading and also leaving a comment.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 months ago from Nashville Tn.

Being a vegetarian I do not eat meat. The treatment of livestock alone before slautering makes me sick and angry. The valid reasons you've given in this hub should alarm most people causing them to adopt a different nutrition style.

Excellent hub!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 3 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

Hi Rajan. Thank you for this great, very informative article. I knew red meat was not very healthy for us, but did not know the extent of the reasons why. For the last several years I rarely eat red meats anymore. I prefer chicken, seafood or fish. Thanks again for this hub.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 months ago from New Delhi, India

This is really very informative hub about red meat and why it should be avoided.

We do try to avoid red meat as much as possible. Fish and chicken is much more preferable to us.

Thanks for the reminder through this well researched, helpful and informative hub!


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 months ago from New Delhi, India

A very well written and well researched hub about red meat!

We avoid it as much as we can . You have summed up the risk factors very nicely. It is better to take fish or chicken if someone enjoys non vegetarian foods. Everything must be taken in moderate quantity.

Thanks for the helpful and informative hub!


Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili Bisson 2 months ago from Canada

Hello rajan,

Great hub as always. The interesting thing that you may or may not be aware of is that here in North America, pork is marketed as being "the other white meat". They don't distinguish between suckling pigs and older pigs in order to make us believe we are eating "white" meat when we consume pork.

All animals destined for mass market - and that includes poultry - are pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. No wonder we have the rate of illness we do.

I quit red meat after backpacking in Europe in 1976. Whenever it ends up on my plate by accident these days, all I can taste is blood. Yuk!


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 2 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

You are so correct Kaili. It's all about money today for very many people and how fast one can make it, the method notwithstanding.Taking a life for one's own pleasure or taste is just not right when one has veggie options.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 2 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Chitrangada, red meat has so much going against it as far as heath is concerned that it is better to avoid it totally. I agree if someone cannot live without meat then it is better to go for white meat and then too limit its consumption.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 2 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Phylliis glad you like the article and I find a lot many people veering off red meat because of increased health issues and concerns. Glad you prefer white meat & fish. Thanks for stopping by.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 2 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Audrey, going vegetarian is the best, like you are. Second best would be to eat white meat sparingly. It would save a lot of health issues people face due to eating meat as these are full of hormones & antibiotics that are injected and fed to them. Thanks for visiting.


Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili Bisson 2 months ago from Canada

Eating white meat sparingly is exactly the way to go rajan. I guess I would have to include pork in that, as long as you know how the animals are raised. I do enjoy pork ribs from time to time and pork tenderloin too. But we only ever do those on the bbq, which means they are confined to the summer months. During winter, it is all fish and chicken. But beef...ugh. I cannot stand the taste.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 days ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Pork is white meat so it is fine as long as you skip the fatty portions. Chicken is good & fish the best. Indulging once in a while is a treat one needs. Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. I regret the delay in replying.

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    rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly (rajan jolly)1,139 Followers
    310 Articles

    Rajan is a major in Botany and Chemistry. Has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years of his career breeding layer & broiler parents.



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