Red meat has borne the brunt as being not only harmful to our weight loss goals but also to our general health. In 2015, the World Health Organization called red meat a “probable carcinogenic,” and gave a clear warning that a diet rich in red meat has been shown to contribute to colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. A 2012 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine also found red meat consumption increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and death overall.
So is it OK to eat that beef burger or are you issuing yourself a death sentence? The short answer is yes, but you have to eat it the right way. Let’s be real, a burger is just plain unhealthy but there are better ways to consume red meat. “A healthy diet can absolutely include moderate amounts of red meat,” Rachel Begun, M.S., R.D.N., a nutrition educator and advocate, told Fox News. It’s packed with protein (there are about 22 grams in a three-ounce portion), which plays an important role in weight loss by inducing a sensation of being full, Begun said.
Despite the alarming headlines, red meat isn’t all bad. Red meat is loaded with vitamin B and zinc. Plus, it has twice as much iron as chicken, which is a nutrient many children and premenopausal women tend to have low levels of. Compared to chicken and fish, red meat is the real power puncher when it comes to increasing your iron levels.
So, what exactly is the right way to eat red meat? Since red meat is so dense, the first thing to consider would be the portion size. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating no more than 18 ounces of red meat per week. This shouldn’t feel too restrictive given that a portion should be 3 to 4 ounces. But just because red meat is healthy, that doesn’t mean you go to town with that steak.
The second thing you need to consider is the right cut. To avoiding unnecessary calories and fat by choosing pieces of meat with “round” or “loin” on the label, or ground beef that’s 90 percent lean. And according to a 2010 study published in Nutrition Journal, you can actually cut-down on the fat count even more by opting for grass-fed options, which have less fat and more antioxidants than grain-fed beef.
Finally, the only way you can incorporate this healthy element is if you treat meat as one ingredient in your dish rather than making it the star of your plate. So instead of wolfing down the steak, add slices of beef to a dinner salad or cooking them in stir-fried vegetables.