Is red meat bad for health?

While some Indians are open to the idea of a juicy steak, the majority seems to buy into the school of thought that considers red meat bad for health. Delectable, though creamy rich, red meat Indian gravies aside, it is possible to eat red meat and still live healthy. However, sev-eral myths about red meat abound. Some say it causes heart disease, obesity, cancer, even high cholesterol. How true are these claims? We take a look at these red meat myths, and bust them once and for all.1. Myth about Red Meat: Red meat causes weight gainFact: There are two separate myths here:1. Red meat causes obesity: Red meat is like any other food, it comes with a certain number of calories. The more you eat it, the more calories you will consume. However, it is a more dense food, which means that its calorie count is higher (for the same volume) when compared to vegetables or seafood. However, this does not mean that one becomes obese by simply eating red meat. You would have to eat a lot of it, to gain weight, the same idea that applies to just about any food. No, red meat doesn’t contain any instant-obesity qualities the fatten you up the second you consume even one serving size.2. Red meat is closely linked to body build-ers. It is a popular belief that if you want to build muscle, you should eat red meat. Yes, it is true that red meat is a dense source of protein. But by simply eating it you are not going to bulk up. If it were this easy to sport big muscles, the weight training floors wouldn’t be crowded with folks push-ing heavy barbells. Again, a diet rich in red meat will need to go hand in hand with a good workout routine to gain maximum muscle strength.Bottom-line: As with all other foods, red meat will be as healthy or unhealthy as the cooking methods used and the portions eat-en. Also, eating anything in excess without exercising, will cause weight gain.2. Myth about Red Meat: Red meat causes high cholesterolFact: Red meat does have fat. A small amount of fat is permissible for the body, but excess fat will tilt the weighing scale. It’s onus is on you to choose the right way to cook the meat that will get rid of unwant-ed fats. The idea is to have lean meat. This will reduce the level of cholesterol. How-ever, cholesterol from animal protein is healthier than cholesterol from trans fats, and plant-based saturated fats. Therefore, if you are on a low fat diet, then don’t stop at cutting out red meat. You will need to cut out on several oils, butters, mayo, and other fatty dressings as well.Bottom-line: Over indulgence in fatty red meat regularly causes high cholesterol. The important word to note here is ‘regu-larly.’ Moderation is key.3. Myth about Red Meat: Red meat is completely unhealthy.Fact: If you think red meat has no nutri-tional value and contains only fats with bad cholesterol, then you are wrong. Red meat is a good source for proteins, vitamin B12, iron and zinc. This means that it makes you stronger, improves and boosts your im-munity.Bottom-line: Consume red meat to increase hemoglobin. It also repairs and builds mus-cle, but consume in moderation and trim fat.4. Myth about Red Meat: Red meat is the only source of saturated fats.Fact: If you have been avoiding red meat only due to its saturated fats, then you’re walking down the wrong path. Red meat has saturated fats, but if you love a dol-lop of butter on your naan or a tub of ice cream after a meal, then you are piling on unwanted fat – most of it is saturated, even without any red meat involvement. These are fats that will clog up your arteries, caus-ing problems of the heart and the waist.Bottom-line: If you are eliminating only red meat from your diet you will lose out on the vitamins, hence avoid other foods that are rich in bad saturated fats.5. Myth about Red Meat: So if red meat is not unhealthy, I can eat as much of it as I want.Fact: We suggest that you eat red meat in moderation. Therefore pay heed to how much you consume at one time, and how often you consume it. Figuring this out for yourself will depend entirely on your weight, height, physical condition, physi-cal activity level, exercise intensity, and overall diet. In other words, you need to apply the same dieting considerations, as you would any other food, to red meat con-sumption.Bottom-line: The thumb rule says you are allowed 90gms of red meat daily, that is an average sized burger patty. But keep in mind that this depends on the aforemen-tioned points.6. Myth about Red Meat: Red meat causes cancer.Fact: Some research suggests that excess consumption of red meat causes cancer. But most of these studies do not mention other merits or demerits of the research samples.