Red meat beneficial, nutritionists claim

Nutritionists are claiming “moderate” red meat consumption has positive benefits, flying in the face of government advisers who urge a cut in consumption.

According to research from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), consumption of moderate amounts of meat makes a significant positive contribution to both micronutrient and macronutrient intakes, without risking any negative health effects.

Its review concludes that the relationship between red meat and health is a positive one, contradicting the SACN report, which urges reduced consumption of red meat over claims of links between consumption and cancer.

The new research, published in the March issue of the BNF’s Nutrition Bulletin, also found most people in the UK population only eat moderate amounts of red meat. 

The SACN report recommends those consuming large amounts of red meat (more than 140g per day) should consider a reduction. However, at 96g per day for men and 57g per day for women, average intakes of red meat in the UK are well below the high intakes observed in previous studies which have raised concern. 

There has been a decrease in the consumption of red meat within the last 30 years and consumption in the UK is less than many other European countries including Spain, Italy, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, the BNF reported.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, member of the BNF’s Meat Advisory Panel (MAP), a new, independent panel providing objective information about the role of meat in our diet, says: “This review highlights that eating red meat in moderation is an important part of a healthy balanced diet. It also lays to rest many of the misconceptions about meat and health.

“Lean red meat is a good source of many vital nutrients and, thanks to modern farming methods, is lower than ever in saturated fat and calories, making it suitable for all the family. Given that current intakes, on average, are well within health targets, there is no reason to eat less red meat if you enjoy it.”

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