Yes too much red meat is bad for us; but it is the processed meat that is really bad for us: all the bacon, salami and the hot dogs that form a staple in our diets may be the real villain according to a Harvard review.
The link between meat consumption and heart disease, diabetes and stroke was studied in this review of 1,500 studies by Renata Micha of the Harvard School of Public Health and her colleagues.
The data from the studies was pooled to arrive at the following findings:
- Eating unprocessed red meat was not associated with increased heart disease and diabetes risk
- However those that ate at least one portion of processed meat daily (about 2 deli slices or one hot dog) were seen to be at 44% more risk from heart disease. These regular consumers of processed red meat were also 19% more likely to have diabetes.
- It is the salt content in processed meat seen as the likely culprit. There is four times the salt in processed meat when compared with unprocessed meat and can thus contribute to high blood pressure and in turn heart disease.
The American Meat Institute Foundation has however argued that the hypotheses need further study and that there is no reason for dietary change since “evidence clearly demonstrates that processed meat is a healthy part of a balanced diet.” Now that may well be something that we question!