Why Red Meat is NOT bad for you.

The health warnings about beef and its effects on the heart due to it's high fat and cholesterol content have been pushed beyond the limits that science can truly support.

Beef and other red meats have long been demonized as a food that contributes to several modern chronic diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis and colon cancer. Eating red meat has increased throughout the Western world, but an association of trends is not proof neither a convincing reason to pin the blame solely on beef for the observed rising disease rates.

Numerous other foods have also had dramatic increases in consumption during the same time period; for example, poultry increased 280% to 32kgs per person per year and vegetable oils 437% to 27kgs per person per year by the year 2000. Despite these increases there is little expert advice or demand for a reduction in poultry or vegetable oil intake? In the UK poultry consumption has more than doubled in the last 20-25 years whereas beef consumption has remained fairly static. When you look at why it's mainly down to costly less money per pound of meat. The public choice has also shifted with regards to the cuts of meat commonly purchased towards options that provide more value for money such as beef mince (40% of beef sales) and beef roasting joints (29% of beef sales). 

Beef is full of many nutrients necessary for health, including vitamin B12 which is needed for producing red blood cells and supporting the nervous system. It is also rich in carnitine and co-enzyme Q10 which have been shown to be beneficial for heart heath and in complementing traditional therapies in those who have already suffered with heart problems.

Beef fat is composed of numerous different types of fat; it is not just saturated fat. In fact about half of the fats in beef tallow are unsaturated. For clarity the typical fatty acid profile for beef is as follows:


•Saturated fats 49-54% (fatty acid ratios of 25% palmitic, 22% stearic & 3% myristic).

•Monounsaturated fats 42-48% (fatty acid ratios of 39% oleic & 3% palmitoleic).

•Polyunsaturated fats 3-4% (fatty acid ratios of 2% linoleic & 1% linolenic).


The two major saturated fatty acids in beef, stearic and palmitic are considered by some experts to be the preferred source of energy for the heart. These fatty acids do not go rancid easily like polyunsaturates; they do not initiate cancer and do not irritate the arterial walls. Stearic acid has been found to improve HDL cholesterol, the 'good' cholesterol and has no effect on LDL, the supposed 'bad' cholesterol. The primary monounsaturated fatty acid in beef is oleic acid (39%), the very same type of fat that is found in abundance in olive oil which has been heralded for its capacity to reduce cholesterol levels and lower heart disease risk.

The mono-unsaturate, palmitoleic acid, whilst only in small amounts in beef fat has intriguingly been found to have beneficial antimicrobial effects that help protect the gut against pathogens. It also helps to oxidise certain fatty acids and therefore may play a small role in protecting against weight gain. Beef fat that comes from grass fed animals will also contain reasonable amounts of a naturally occurring anti-carcinogenic trans fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. CLA has been found to help normalise body fat deposition and may also play a role to some extent in weight management. Therefore, it is clear that beef fat is not all bad, in fact the large majority of fatty acids are good as they provide benefits to human physiology and function.

Nutrition can have conflicting views when it comes to what types of fat intake is best and how much of it we should eat. When you study different cultures across the globe (Aborigines, Inuits, or African tribes) they all eat off the land (plenty of red meats) and have significantly less health issues. Contact us today and chat to an advisor about our study options in becoming a personal trainer.