Eating red meat in moderation
One new study from the Harvard School of Medicine suggests that eating one daily serving of red meat is linked to a 13-per cent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer (the increase was 20 per cent for those who ate processed red meat daily). Yet Australian research published recently in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that women who ate less then the recommended three to four palm-size servings of red meat were twice as likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.
So should we cut out red meat or not?
"It really depends on the individual," says James Kirkland, associate professor of nutrition and toxicology at the University of Guelph. While it's well documented that red meat, which includes pork, lamb, beef, veal and game, poses health risks, eliminating it entirely might not work for everyone's diet.
Women, for example, tend to have low iron levels and might benefit from moderate amounts of iron-rich red meat. "If you're iron-deficient, you tend to lose some energy and there's also an impact on neural function, which could present as depression-like symptoms."
If you choose to include red meat in your diet, there are some steps you can take to enjoy it in a healthier way.
Red meats in moderation
"Don't consume red meat every day, and eat smaller portions," Kirkland advises, adding that most people shouldn't be eating more than one to two servings per week. According to Canada's Food Guide, a serving of meat is 75 grams (2.5 ounces), or roughly the size of a deck of cards.
Prepare it rare
Eating meat rare may help decrease cancer risk. "A lot of new chemicals are formed as you cook the meat, Kirkland explains. "If you continue to cook it until it's well done, those chemical reactions continue and they form carcinogens that enhance colon cancer." There's no need to worry about sterilizing the inside of solid cuts of meat, such as steak, on the inside since the bacteria live on the outer surfaces. Ground beef, however, should be cooked well throughout.
Photography by iStockphoto.com.