Eating less red and processed meat may not improve your health

Eating less red and processed meat may not improve your health

Most of us have heard that red meat and processed meat isn’t good for your health and should only be consumed in tiny amounts.

Previous studies have linked red and processed meat intake to growth in certain cancers and heart disease.

But new guidelines released Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine flip this long-held understanding on its head.

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NutriRECS determined that there’s”low- to very low-certainty evidence” that reducing red and processed meat intake will lower the danger of developing heart disease or dying from cancer. The group basically recommends that adults should”continue current unprocessed red meat” and”processed meat” consumption, instead of scale back.

But a large number of nutrition experts and doctors aren’t boarded with NutriRECS’s findings. The majority of the pushback has to do with the way that the findings were construed and the harshness of the recommendations.

In fact, experts from the Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health said in a blog article that the paper’s aim is”puzzling” and the reasons for their recommendations are”problematic.”

True Health Initiative

Another group of physicians and public health specialists from the True Health Initiative, an organization aimed at”fighting bogus facts,” wrote a joint letter pleading the authors not to publish the paper” for the sake of public understanding and public health.”

The American Cancer Society also issued a statement clarifying that, despite the news, they “recommend limiting consumption of red and processed meat to save lives from cancer.”

“I’m surprised by the interpretation of the information and the conclusion/recommendation by the NutriRECS consortium authors,” Sylvia Ley, a registered dietitian and assistant professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine told CNBC Make It in an email.

The panel reviewed research that looked at how red and processed meat influence health outcomes, then assigned levels to the study. (The grades came from software that’s typically used to rate the quality of scientific proof.) The systematized categories determined that the past observational research on meat was “low quality.”


Ironically, Ley said the information published in the results and tables of the paper is consistent with previous findings of lower intake of red and processed meat. The guidelines presented in the document appear to contradict their findings.

“We are facing a growing epidemic of diet-related chronic ailments and a climate change crisis, both of which are connected to high meat consumption.”

The authors in this new study exclusively focused on clinical results and decided that environmental and animal welfare factors were”outside the scope” of the study.

But they did take people’s values and preferences under consideration. The authors wrote that “omnivores love eating meat and consider it an essential component of a healthy diet.” The researchers added that many omnivores are reluctant to give up meat, even understanding the”potentially undesirable health effects.”

So, what should customers looking to consume a health-promoting diet do? Ley’s advice is to follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which note that consumers can get their protein from a variety of s, not just from meat.

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