Is it Healthy to Eat Meat?
The article concerns the question – Is it Healthy to Eat Meat? We are designed to eat meat, so to ask if it is healthy to eat meat is a bit like asking if it is healthy to eat. The pointed canine teeth in our mouths are possessed by all carnivores. But unlike the real meat eaters we are designed to eat vegetables as well. Diets based on natural eating habits like the Palaeolithic diet have to make a lot of assumptions about how our remote ancestors lived.
These assumptions are not necessarily correct. In winter those living in the north would have eaten mainly meat – there was nothing else to eat. In spring and summer a mixed diet of meat and vegetables and in the fall fruits and berries. They were designed to live on a lot of meat or a lot of vegetables or both, not just one balanced diet.
Meat is healthy to eat if we choose the right kind and the right amount. Few people have died from eating too many vegetables, but a lot have died from eating too much meat. You just have to make sure you choose the right sort and the right amount.
We have heard a lot recently about the dangers of red meat. Like most health scares it sells papers and there is a lot of exaggeration as well as some truth in the stories. Harvard Medical School researchers tell us that an extra portion of red meat every day will annually increase our risk of death by 13 percent. We are told that red meat increases risk of fatal heart disease and terminal cancer.
The sample was large, 120,000 people and the researchers did their best with the results they obtained. But beware of statistics; maybe it is unfair to say there are lies, damn lies and statistics. The problem is interpretation when you have a massive number of variables. Should we give up meat and head for the nearest green grocer? Not necessarily. There are those who disagree with the conclusions of the Harvard Medical School researchers.
David Spiegelhalter, a Cambridge University biostatiscian, thinks there is no need to panic. He considers two people age 40 of similar fitness, weight and eating habits. Both have a theoretical life expectancy of 80 years. But if one eats an extra 3 oz of red meat a day he will die at age 79. He has enjoyed extra meat for 39 years and lost 1 year of life. He might regret his decision at age 78, but for the rest of us there isn’t much to worry about.
Of course there is no point in courting disaster and David Spiegelhalter’s conclusion is also based on interpretation of statistics. I would say there is no harm in eating red meat once or twice a week, just make sure you do not eat more than a 17 oz weekly total. Eat meat of lean cuts from grass fed animals and all will be well. Many people only eat white meat like chicken or prefer just fish and that is a healthy option.
The best thing to do if you enjoy any meat is to eat it in moderation. Moderation does not have to be boring small portions swamped by vegetables. There are plenty of good healthy recipes available incorporating smaller amounts of meat and tasting just as good as a meat rich dinner.
In long term diets try to eat mostly white meat and fish, but enjoy red meat from time to time. Fast weight loss diets are unlikely to contain much meat and are less of an issue. You should never follow a fast weight loss diet for more than a few weeks so do not worry about their meat content.
If you eat the right meat in the right quantity you will have no problems. It is perfectly healthy to eat meat, so carry on and enjoy your meal.