Red meat: Good or bad for health?

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RED meat contains numerous vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthful, balanced diet. In recent years, however, its reputation has been severely blemished, with studies suggesting that red meat intake can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. But is it really that bad for us? We investigate.
Intake of red meat in the U.S. has fallen dramatically over the past 4 decades.
Red meat is defined as any meat that comes from mammalian muscle. This includes beef, lamb, pork, goat, veal, and mutton.
For many households, red meat is considered a food staple, with some of us consuming beef, lamb, and pork in different variations on a daily basis.
Last year, the average person in the United States is estimated to have consumed around 106.6 pounds of red meat. Although this might appear a high intake, it is a significant reduction from the average 145.8 pounds consumed per capita in 1970. Over the past 10 years alone, red meat consumption has fallen by around 10 pounds per person, with 2014 seeing the lowest intake of red meat since 1960, at just 101.7 pounds per person.
But why are so many of us cutting down on red meat?
According to a 2016 Harris Poll, approximately 8 million adults in the U.S. are vegetarian or vegan, with concerns about animal welfare being the driving factor.
However, it seems that millions more of us are opting for plant-based foods over meat-based products because we believe that they are more healthful. The 2016 Harris Poll found that 37 percent of U.S. adults “always” or “sometimes” eat vegetarian meals when eating out, with 36 percent of these citing health reasons for their choice.
A number of studies have suggested that when it comes to health, a plant-based diet is the way to go. In December 2016, a position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claimed that a plant-based diet can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by 62 percent, as well as reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
“If you could bottle up a plant-based prescription, it would become a blockbuster drug overnight,” commented paper co-author Susan Levin, of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.
It is not only the health benefits associated with plant-based diets that are steering us away from red meat, however, but the health risks that might arise from eating red meat. We take a look at what some of these risks are.

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