May 5

Is It Necessary To Cut Back on Red Meat?


by Rob Baker

It is challenging to remember when people did not argue about red meat. Some people believe that concern over its consumption is overblown. Still, others point to numerous studies about health risks and links to red meat. How do you know what food is safe? Even national recommendations tend to sway or change depending on the resource. If you want to understand whether you need to cut back on red meat, you need to understand what the food is and how it impacts or influences overall health.  

Defining Red Meat

When discussing meat, experts split it into two color categories: white and red. The color category a slice of meat belongs to depends on the myoglobin in the host animal’s muscles. When exposed to oxygen, the protein myoglobin produces the color red. 

When discussing red meat, the conversation focuses on meat from mammals, especially livestock. Therefore, red meat consists of pork, beef, lamb, and veal. 

Healthy Red Meat

While the consensus of the medical community seems to suggest that too much red meat is not good for you, is there such a thing as healthy red meat? The healthiness of red meat boils down to the leanness of the cut. You will want to avoid processed red meats like sausage and bacon because these are among the unhealthiest options. If choosing ground beef, select packages that are at least 90% lean. Choose sirloin, flank, tenderloin, or round steak over fattier pieces. Finally, choose lean pork products and remove any visible fat. 

Health Benefits of Red Meat

While it is wise to limit your intake of red meat, you do not need to eliminate it from your diet. Red meat does provide several nutrients, making it beneficial. There are several red meat options that offer a good source of zinc, iron, and B vitamins. However, avoid overly processed food items. Additionally, too much red meat can counteract any health benefits you might receive from it. 

Weekly Servings of Red Meat

While it is not essential to eliminate red meat from your diet, you should cut back on it, especially if you are eating it daily. Most medical experts and nutritionists recommend limiting red meat to one or two servings per week, for a total of six ounces. Still, the recommendation is cut in half for those with heart disease or high cholesterol.

Health Benefits of Cutting Back on Red Meat

If you eat red meat several times per day or daily, you do not need to cut back cold turkey. Start by eliminating a single serving and take it from there. 

There are benefits to cutting back, including reduced risks of heart disease, cancer, and other issues. Additionally, eating less red meat often equates to eating fewer calories, contributing to weight loss.

As with most food and beverage items, red meat is best experienced in moderation. Limiting the amount of red meat you eat will allow you to savor it when you have it. Additionally, you can look forward to a healthier you.


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