The Latest on the Red Meat and Heart Disease Debate

A systematic review of clinical trials looking at the impact of red meat intake on risk factors for cardiovascular disease was published in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [1]. 


Investigators found no statistically significant, nor clinically meaningful differences in blood pressure, Total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol:HDL ratio.


Now you might say… the 0.5 serving size threshold (equivalent to about 35gs of meat per day or a little over half a pound a week) isn’t enough to do damage.


But the investigators checked for a washing out effect of lower meat consumption across included studies. They found that there was no harm threshold despite variable meat consumption, anywhere from 1-7 pounds per week.


The authors also stress the need for greater inclusion of data from clinical trials in shaping nutritional guidelines for the public.


The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee bases its recommendations almost entirely on epidemiology, which doesn’t establish cause and effect.


This is a huge problem. One that you are likely a victim of. I know I was at one point.


The reality is this



The real problem, in part, is the over consumption of food that offers little or no nutritional value. If you are basing your diet on boxed and bagged food with added oils, refined flours, or sugar, that is the issue.


You don’t derive energy from food for free. The process costs vitamins and minerals. As does the process of daily maintenance and repair. Things required for the optimal expression of the individual that is yourself.


Red meat is likely not the issue. There certainly are contexts where health can be improved by restricting meat and protein in general. But these cases are the exception rather than the rule.


Can you do well with no meat?



The body is incredibly resilient, and will adapt to whatever behavior we betray it with. Recall that there are folks who smoke daily, eat junkfood with impunity, sleep few hours nightly, yet still manage to live pretty well into old age.


If you have opted to restrict intake of meat for health reasons. Okay. But consider working with someone who can determine whether or not that is appropriate in your context at this time. We have means of answering this question.


Further Reading


O’Connor, Lauren E., Jung Eun Kim, and Wayne W. Campbell. “Total red meat intake of≥ 0.5 servings/d does not negatively influence cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systemically searched meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 105.1 (2017): 57-69



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