can i eat beef everyday

Also, if you want to enjoy red meat, official guidelines recommend a “relatively lower consumption” of red and processed meats. While there is no specific number dedicated to red meat, the overall recommendation for animal protein sources (meats, poultry and eggs) for a 2,000-calorie diet is 26 ounces per week.

Scientists have linked some varieties of red meat to chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. But red meat also contains key nutrients like protein, vitamin B12, and zinc.

This article reviews the evidence on the health effects of red meat, including possible benefits and downsides of incorporating it into your regular diet.

Before discussing the health effects of red meat, it’s important to distinguish between different types of meat.

Red meat comes from non-fowl mammals and is named such because it is red when raw.

Beef, pork, lamb, venison, and boar are examples of red meat. Chicken, turkey, and other meats from fowl (birds) are white meat because these are white after being cooked.

Besides the specific animal it came from, meat can also be distinguished by how it’s raised and processed. Here are some key terms to know:

There are many ethical and environmental conversations surrounding meat production and consumption. Red meats, like beef, are central to many ethics discussions. While this article focuses solely on the health effects of eating red meat, you can engage with these other important considerations here at Healthline Nutrition:

For example, 4 ounces (oz.) or 113 grams (gm) of 80% lean ground beef provides (3):

The protein in beef is complete, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that humans must get from food. Your body needs protein for muscle and tissue growth and maintenance (4).

Beef is also a great source of vitamin B12 — a water-soluble nutrient necessary for nervous system functioning — and zinc, a mineral that’s vital for the immune system (5, 6).

On the other hand, red meat is high in saturated fat. Though research shows that saturated fat does not directly increase the risk of heart disease, it can increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease (7, 8).

Additionally, highly processed meats, like bacon and sausages, have a more notably different nutritional profile than less processed cuts of meat. In particular, they are often very high in salt and contain other preservatives (9).

Excess sodium intake may be associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, especially for people who are more sensitive to the effects of salt (10).

The way that meat is raised can also slightly affect its nutritional composition. For example, grass-fed beef is typically lower in total fat and saturated fat and higher in omega-3 fatty acids compared with grain-fed beef. However, these differences are relatively small (11, 12).

While the health effects of red meat on health have been heavily researched, most of these studies are observational, meaning that they’re designed to detect associations but cannot prove causation (cause and effect).

Observational studies tend to have confounding variables — factors other than the ones being studied that might be influencing the outcome variable (13).

It’s impossible to control for all of these factors and determine if red meat is a “cause” of any health outcome. That limitation is important to keep in mind when reviewing the research and determining if red meat is something you’d like to incorporate into your regular diet.

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Red meat and cancer

Observational studies show that both processed and unprocessed red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, especially colorectal and breast cancers (21, 22, 23).

In fact, in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) cancer agency classified red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” They also classified processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans,” noting that processed meat has been shown to cause colorectal cancer (24).

A review of studies also found that people who consumed high amounts of processed and unprocessed meats had a 9% and 6% greater risk of developing breast cancer, respectively, compared to those who consumed the lowest amount (21).

While it’s not fully understood how red and processed meats increase the risk of certain cancers, it’s thought that using nitrites to cure meat and smoking meats can produce carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds. High heat cooking, such as grilling, may also create cancer-promoting compounds (25, 26).

That being said, more research is needed to understand the effects of processed and unprocessed red meat intake on cancer development.

Red meat and heart disease

Several observational studies show that red meat is associated with a greater risk of death, including heart disease (14, 15).

One study in 43,272 males showed that consuming a higher amount of red meat — including both processed and unprocessed varieties — was associated with a higher risk of heart disease (16).

Furthermore, the same study concluded that substituting red meat with plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts, or soy could possibly reduce the risk of developing heart disease (16).

Other research indicates the risk may vary between processed or unprocessed meat.

Another large study including 134,297 individuals found that consuming at least 5.3 oz. (150 gm) of processed meat per week was significantly associated with an increased risk of death and heart disease (17).

One of the reasons processed meats may be more strongly associated with heart disease risk is the high salt content. Excessive sodium intake has been linked to high blood pressure (19).

Conversely, the study of more than 130,000 participants found no association between unprocessed red meat consumption, even in amounts of 8.8 oz. (250 gm) or more per week (17).

Another review of controlled studies concluded that eating half a serving (1.25 oz. or 35.4 gm) or more of unprocessed red meat daily doesn’t adversely affect heart disease risk factors, such as blood lipids and blood pressure levels (18).

Randomized controlled trials — which are considered to be of higher quality than observational studies — appear to support these results.

It’s still important to keep in mind that both processed and unprocessed types of red meat are high in saturated fat, which can increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease (8).

For this reason, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting saturated fat intake to less than 6% of total daily calories, choosing lean cuts of meat when possible, and limiting consumption of processed meats (15, 20).

Also, if you want to enjoy red meat, official guidelines recommend a “relatively lower consumption” of red and processed meats. While there is no specific number dedicated to red meat, the overall recommendation for animal protein sources (meats, poultry and eggs) for a 2,000-calorie diet is 26 ounces per week.

FAQ

Is it unhealthy to eat beef every day?

Red meat (such as beef, lamb and pork) can form part of a healthy diet. But eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases your risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer. Processed meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives.

What meat can I eat everyday?

Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and fish are good options, as they are lower in saturated fats. Additionally, incorporating plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu into your diet can provide a healthy balance.

Are there any benefits to eating beef?

Beef is an excellent source of protein and supplies 10 essential nutrients including B-vitamins, zinc, and iron that support an active and healthy lifestyle. The nutrients in beef provide our bodies with the strength to thrive throughout all stages of life. Learn more about beef’s nutrients below.

Do bodybuilders eat beef everyday?

Bodybuilders are strongly focused on consuming enough protein each day so that their muscles have enough building blocks to grow bigger and stronger. Beef, pork and lamb are excellent sources of protein, as well as being tasty.

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