Speaking at ‘Sustaining the Nation: What is the role for red meat?’ in London yesterday, Ridley said that studies of isolated tribes by foremost dentist Dr Weston A Price in the 1930s had revealed that animal products played a vital part in healthy diets.
Ridley said that Price found isolated tribes had almost no dental deformity and very low disease rates until the introduction of sugar and processed foods. Although their traditional diets varied widely across the globe, they shared important characteristics.
All were low in refined foods, such as vegetable oils and soya; every diet contained animal products of some form; and they all had nearly four times the calcium and 10 times the fat-soluble vitamins compared to modern diets.
Ridley said this demonstrated the importance of meat, which is a vital source of fat soluble vitamins. “Vegetables are great as part of a balanced diet but they are not nutrient-dense,” he said, pointing out that liver is the most nutrient-rich food there is.
He added that the meat industry should be promoting fatty, not lean cuts, pointing out that our brains are 80% saturated fat. “We wonder why we have so much dementia when we are telling elderly people to eat a low fat diet,” he said.
Ridley also warned that natural fats, such as butter, were much more stable for cooking than vegetable oils. “We have demonised saturated fats, but it is a much more stable molecule,” he said.
However, he added that a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 was important, and that grass-fed meat provided a much better balance then grain-fed meats.
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