Red Meat Is Heart-Healthy If Not Cured

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Heart-health has been the cynosure of all “science-eyes”. With research and breakthroughs making news more frequently than ever, banishing past myths and beliefs, recent research has laid down “Red meat is heart-healthy if not cured”- making meat-lovers breathe through the skin of what they cannot live without.

The results come as a big surprise as red meat has long been considered unhealthy being high in saturated fats. More so, cured meats which are subject to various preservation techniques like being cured with salt or other preservatives or being smoked, are not heart-healthy. The various cardiovascular disorders from high cholesterol and consequent degeneration of the arterial system, originating from regular consumption of red meat is well known.

What are the health hazards, linked with the meat curing process?

Traditionally, salt was used alone in the process of curing meats and the discovery of certain salts bringing about the pink color in meat, created a preference for the nitrite variety which was responsible for coloring and flavoring. Sodium nitrite is the commercially used salt for the curing process. It inhibits the growth of dangerous bacteria such as botulinal toxin(responsible for botulism).
Now, how does cured red meat become unhealthy?

High consumption of nitrite salts can lead to toxicity in the blood. There have been reports of nitrite toxicity leading to acute methemoglobinemia(impairing the haemoglobin’s capacity to carry oxygen) in infants. Though nitrites haven’t been ostensibly linked to cancer, other health issues related to the chemical are blearing.

Not all cured meats but most of them are smoked. So how does smoking cause harm? During the process of smoking meat, polycyclic aromatic compounds are formed, which are carcinogenic. The fine smoke particles depositing on meat are composed of partially oxidized coal particles, which are the same as present in cigarette smoke, smog etc, which is indisputably carcinogenic. So smoking the meat in the process of curing, tilts the balance against health- reiterating the fact that red meat is not heart healthy if cured.

Apart from these, red meat is also linked to colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer as well , as the cooking process(grilling, smoking, broiling, pan frying) and curing releases a high amount of carcinogenic compounds.  This is in addition to the fact that red meat consumers also project a high incidence of polyarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis. Scientific studies and test-proven results have declared cured red meats as unhealthy especially for the heart.

With a rising debate on red meat consumption an offshoot of the red-meat research has  declared that red meat is heart-healthy if not cured and if it’s the lean red meat.

The lean variety of the red meat(which has less than 10 gm of fat for every 100 gm of serving)  which is fresh and is not cured or smoked, is a good source of protein and is not associated with health-hazards compared to its smoked/cured counterparts.

The red meat varieties which are ideal for consumption are lean ground beef, steak, T-bone, lean pork chops, pork loin, lean stew beef,  veal and lamb- these are the heart-healthy red-meats if uncured.

The red meat varieties you have to be weary of is the Sausage, Bacon, Ham, Smoked meats (turkey and chicken, as well as pork and beef),  Salami, pastrami, and pepperoni, Cold cuts, Sandwich meats, which invariably go through the process of curing and even smoking in some cases.

So from the fact files presented above red meat is heart-healthy if uncured, only point is you have to make a judicious pick  of the meat variety and feel the rosy red of health, than the unhealthy red rash of a growing disease!

Photo Courtesy : fixedpricesundays.wordpress.com

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