Is Meat bad for you?

man holding joint of beef at market stall

When our vegetarian ancestors first started eating meat around 2 million years ago, the question about whether meat was unhealthy was not even close to being the major concern that it is today. They simply consumed it because they thought of it as a necessity for survival. Eventually, after the discovery of fire, meat became a staple food in our diets. However, in the past few years, people have started to ask questions like “Does eating red meat increase the risk of dying from heart disease or cancer?” and scientists have started researching about this concern.

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Humans need 5 main foods to survive and they are proteins, carbohydrates, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and grains. Meat in general has to offer some of the most important macromolecules which are Proteins, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, and Minerals. Proteins are the most important resource for repairing and replenishing cells, Carbohydrates provide us with energy, and Vitamins and Minerals drive metabolic processes in our bodies. Meat even offers some of the vitamins that aren’t available in plants such as B12 and it also contains all needed amino acids. Also, the energy from meat is digested and consumed much faster than from other foods. So meat in general isn’t harmful, but it has different health effects based on which animal it comes from and which part of that animal.

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Protein rebuilding muscles at the light orange area

The main body part from which meat is eaten in our country us muscle tissue. Muscle tissue of any animal lack the required nutrients needed and this type of meat from some animals also contain high levels of saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol. High levels of this LDL cholesterol is what is associated with heart disease. Beef, Pork, Lamb etc. all consist of red meats. Recent studies have shown that eating large amounts of red meat has correlated with an increased risk of strokes, diabetes, and colorectal cancer. In addition, processed meat is bad for you because of the different chemicals that are added that damage our DNA which leads to mutations and causes cancers. A high consumption of red meat and processed meat combined can lead to an increased risk of premature death by 29%.

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Cholesterol buildup in the arteries

However, in all the studies conducted above, scientists only found that large amounts of meat led to these diseases. People that only eat meat once or twice a day shouldn’t be too worried. However, the average American consumes around 1600 grams of week, which is much above the amount of meat that you can eat to stay healthy. All in all, meat is not unhealthy if eaten in moderation but can lead to serious health problems if eaten too much. So people should try and limit the amount of red and processed meat they eat, if not all meat.

-Smaran Sivashankar


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