Red meat consumption reduces depression risk, finds study

A new study has revealed that women who eat less red meat are twice as likely to develop anxiety and depression.

Researchers from Deakin University in Australia studied more than 1,000 women from the Geelong region to establish whether there was any relationship between beef and lamb consumption and the emergence of depressive and anxiety disorders.

To their surprise, they found a higher incidence of these disorders among women who were eating less red meat than recommended by government health advice.

“We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health, as studies from other countries had found red meat consumption to be associated with physical health risks, but it turns out that it actually may be quite important,” said lead author Professor Felice Jacka.

“When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount.

“Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women’s diets, as well as other factors, such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained.”

Interestingly, the scientists found no relationship between mental health and other forms of protein, such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins. Additionally, only 19 women in the study were vegetarians and the results were the same when these women were excluded from the analysis.

Professor Jacka said that the results suggested that women could boost their mental health by eating moderate amounts of red meat.

However, she advised against eating too much red meat because the results of the study suggested that people who ate more than the recommended amount also had a higher incidence of depression and anxiety. She said that the findings may also only apply to grass-fed meat, which has higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.

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