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How much red meat is enough?

Sudipa's picture

In the recent times we hear a lot about meat consumption and about its probable adverse health effects. How much meat is enough for daily consumption? In a recent study on a group of Australians, it was found that an average Australian consumes nearly 110 kg of red meat in a year. Is this healthy?


Whenever, I feel the urge to have red meat I am forced to think about breast and heart diseases, along with prostrate cancer cases -  all which have been linked to eating too much of this meat. On the other hand, we also hear that if we skip meat completely our diet shall lack some necessary nutrients such as iodine, vitamins and iron – the question still remains – how much red meat should we eat


Dietician Sharon Natoli who is the director of Food and Nutrition Australia (FNA) says that controlled intake of lean meat in a balanced diet is the only way to have red meat and stay away from its adverse effects also. She says “We support eating a variety of protein sources because we get different nutrients from different sources. Legumes are a good source of iron, zinc and fibre. But it’s easier to get your nutritional requirements if you include meat in your diet.” Natoli believes that meat is a good source of some easily absorbed minerals which is not available in other foods. She also says that we do not need to eat TOO much of it to get more nutrition – thus, the best and healthiest intake is small quantities.


Recent studies have revealed that the average consumption of meat by an Australian which is 110 kg is at least 3 times more than the advised quantity. This also means that some people might be consuming a whole week’s quantity in just one sitting. Ideally, one serving should be maximum of 100gm – this is actually enough. You can have this small serves of meat 3 times a week.


The Cancer Council New South Wales also agrees about the “convincing” link which is said to be existing between bowel cancer and high red meat intake but still continues to support unprocessed meat due to its nutritional benefits “Red meat is strongly correlated with bowel cancer - but not in quantities of about 40 grams a day,” Dr Stanton from Wales says.


Veronique Droulez who is the marketing manager at the popular Meat and Livestock Australia mentions that meat provides us with some very easily absorbed minerals and vitamins which is needed by our bodies. “Having nutrient-rich foods is good in restricted diets,” she says. “We know, for example, that in developing countries, if you supplement children’s diets with meat, they tend to do better than if you give them supplements.”


The debate continues but we realize that eating meat in moderation is all that we need for a healthy lifestyle. Have healthy meats such as lean red meat which includes veal, lamb and beef, skinless chicken, seafood, pork lean cuts and oily fish more. Stay away from all types of processed meats such as burgers, bacons, salami, deep fried chicken and other fatty cuts. 


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How Much Red Meat Is Enough?