Throughout history, red meat has played an important role in human diets.
Optimal intake of red and processed meats as part of a well-balanced diet provides you with highly beneficial animal protein and other nutrients.
More specifically, it contains sufficient amounts of iron, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, zinc and iodine.
Eating meat is indeed associated with certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, but moderate consumption is key to avoid any complications.
Here are both the beneficial and harmful effects of consuming meat every day.
- You Will Get Sufficient Amounts of Animal Protein
Red meat provides you with a wide array of beneficial nutrients, most notably animal protein. It contains on average 20-25 % of protein per 100 grams serving when raw.
Actually, one cup (134 grams) of cooked diced meat contains about 39.7 grams of protein and many other essential nutrients (1):
- Energy: 269 kJ
- Dietary Fiber: 0 grams
- Carbs: 0 grams
- Protein:7 grams
- Iron:97 mg
- Magnesium:1 mg
- Riboflavin:381 mg
- Niacin:69 mg
- Calcium:8 mg
- Potassium: 450 mg
- Zinc:18 mg
- Copper:125 mg
- Total Folate:38 µg
- Selenium:5 µg
It also contains trace amounts of vitamins B12, A and K and thiamin.
- You Will Feel More Full After Meals
Satiety, also known as the feeling of fullness, can help you lose weight over time.
Many studies have shown that high protein diets can help with weight management and obesity. For example, one study examined the mechanisms of different proteins and how they induce satiety and found that the latter is linked to protein-induced energy expenditure through synchronization with elevated amino acid concentrations (2).
There are many high protein foods to pick from, but lean meats stand out as an incredible source of protein-induced satiety.
One study compared the effects of high protein foods and high carbohydrate foods on satiety and reported that the research group that was served a meat casserole at lunch ate 12% less at dinner than the high carbohydrate group (3).
- You Will Have Stronger and Longer Nails and Hair
Organ meats, such as kidney, heart, tongue, brain, etc. have an excellent nutrient profile and are also high in vitamins A and B12, iron and zinc.
What is particular about them is their richness in biotin, a B complex water-soluble vitamin with favorable effects on brittle nails, brittle hair and common skin infections.
Many studies have shown that increased intake of biotin is associated with reduced nail fragility.
For example, a 2017 study examined the benefits of biotin on hair and nail growth and reported that biotin supplementation (on average 2500 or 3000 μg of biotin per day) can help treat brittle nail syndrome and promote nail and hair growth, especially in alopecia patients (8).
- You May Be at Higher Risk of Developing Cancer
Several sources of evidence have shown that overconsumption of red meat and processed meat increases the incidence of certain cancers, especially prostate, kidney and colorectal cancer.
One large-scale study in 492186 participants investigated the relationships between meal and meal products intake and renal cell carcinoma (a type of kidney cancer) and reported that consumption of red meat may increase the incidence of kidney cancer depending on its cooking method (4).
Another population-based case-control study conducted in New York examined the association between grilled, barbecued and smoked red meats intake and postmenopausal breast cancer and found it is attributed to the cooking methods that promote carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) formation (5).
Overall, red meats do not cause cancer by itself but the way you cook it does. We recommend marinating the meat and lowering its cooking time. Also, consider not eating more than 90 grams of red and processed meat daily.
- You Can Be More Vulnerable to Cardiovascular Disease
Many studies showed that eating red meats has different effects on the risk of heart disease. This is particularly due to the effects of the fat content in red meat on blood cholesterol.
One of these studies was a large-scale analysis in 448568 American adults supported the association between red and processed meats intake and cardiovascular disease-induced mortality and emphasized that roughly 3.3% of deaths could be prevented if the research population ate less than 20 grams of those meats per day (6).
Another example is a study on the link between red and processed meats consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease in women, which reported that both have an effect on the incidence of cardiovascular disease with processed meat having a stronger association (7).
All in all, we recommend consuming red and processed meat moderately and considering substituting them with lean red meat which contains less saturated fatty acids.