Do you try to focus on a healthy diet filled with the types of food that will optimize your health and vitality? If so you are not alone, but it has steadily become a frustrating process because there seems to be so much confusion about what constitutes a healthy diet and what the body really needs. Remember when eggs were the scourge of the earth and took the blame for high cholesterol? Today they are considered part of a healthy diet, with moderation of course. Today, red meat is the product of the hour; leading to the question does your body need red meat?
Claims about Red Meat
Over the past decade or so red meat has been blamed for everything from heart disease to colorectal cancer. One recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine is quoted as saying there is a strong correlation between red meat consumption, cancer and early death. Unfortunately, that is as far as a number of people will read. You see this particular study was observational only, and leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
- What are the other foods consumed by participants?
- Were lifestyle choices accounted for? (smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise)
- Was quality of meat taken into consideration? (organic, processed)
- How much fast food was consumed by participants?
- Were participants under a lot of stress?
Benefits of Red Meat
Red meat offers a lot of benefits to the human body. Most people are aware of the complex protein available in red meat, but did you know it is a great source of vitamin B12? A number of individuals are deficient in this important vitamin, which can lead to a host of potential health problems, including:
- Memory loss
- Easy bruising
- Weakness, fatigue
- Pernicious anemia (which can lead to nerve damage)
If you are participating in a diet that severely restricts your meat intake, or does away with it altogether, your physician will likely recommend a B12 supplement, either via tablet or injection.
Other essential vitamins and minerals provided by good sources of red meat include, omega 3 fats, iron, zinc, vitamin D and niacin. The key to getting the health benefits from red meat without worrying about the possible risks is to moderate your consumption and focus on the leanest cuts of meat.
You can get the vitamins and minerals your body needs without red meat, but in many cases this will mean taking manufactured supplements. There are also other food sources of important minerals such as zinc, but most people do not consume high levels of shellfish or organ meat. The bottom line is, red meat does contain many nutrients the human body needs, but it is not the only source for these nutrients.