26 May 2016

US scientists have surprised themselves by finding “solid evidence” that eating red meat 3 to 4 times a week has no negative impact on risk factors for heart disease and stroke (known as cardiovascular risk factors).

This flies in the face of recent scientific evidence that links higher red meat intake and its nutritional components such as saturated fats to cardiovascular disease.

In the latest study, an analysis of 25 trials, the researchers assessed the effects on cardiovascular risk factors of eating little or no red meat (less than 35g per day) compared  with daily consumption of at least a palm-sized amount of red meat (up to 500g per day).

The results show no differences in cardiovascular disease risk factors between the high-meat and low-meat intake groups.

The authors note their findings, published inFASEB Journal, contradicted their original hypothesis that high meat consumption would be unhealthy.

They say that if eaten as part of a balanced diet red meat “does not have a negative effect on cardiovascular disease risk factors”.

Commenting on the study, Professor Manny Noakes, CSIRO research director in food and nutrition, describes the findings as important.

She notes recent findings from some red meat studies highlighted in the media have been “relatively weak” in that they were able only to show an association with cardiovascular disease risk and therefore unable to prove cause and effect.

“The red meat message gets confused. It’s not the biggest culprit … it’s the company it keeps,” she says.

“This is more solid evidence confirming what we already know and supporting current national guidelines. Lean red meat as part of a healthy diet is certainly going to improve health for those people that eat meat. There shouldn’t be any concern or recommendations to cut out it out of the diet.”

But it doesn’t mean vegetarians should start eating meat, she says.

The study was funded by a National Institutes of Health Training grant to Purdue University, Indiana, US.

Last Reviewed: 26/05/2016



 Consuming < or > 0.5 Servings of Red Meat per Day Does Not Have a Negative Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors; A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.