The Role of Red Meat in a Balanced Diet

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A recurring theme in professional health literature for many years, the role of red meat in a healthy diet continues to be at the forefront, due in part because of the scientific debate: Is red meat necessary in a balanced diet or is it detrimental to good health? In a Nursing Standard article, “The Role of Red Meat in a Balanced Diet,” Carrie Ruxton claims that a balanced diet that includes small amounts of lean red meat contributes to good health. Ruxton, a free-lance dietician, states that “lean red meat is unlikely to increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity and colorectal cancer” and that those diseases are due to eating processed meats that are salted or smoked, overeating and lack of exercise. While Ruxton covers the nutritional composition of raw lean meat and aims to offer insight on why red meat consumption is not contributing to obesity and disease, she falls short of being convincing for several reasons: she discounts a mountain of scientific studies that show a connection between red meat consumption and cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer due to what she states are “methodological limitations of observational studies (that) make it impossible to establish cause and effect,” she does not account for economic limitations that preclude most consumers from being able to buy leaner cuts of red meat, and she barely mentions what makes a balanced diet, or that a combination of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, supplemented by vitamins and possibly eggs and milk products will provide an equally nutritious diet at a reduced cost, perhaps because the article was supported by a grant from the UK Meat Advisory Panel.

First, it is disturbing that Ruxton would summarily write off the r...

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