How Red Meat Affects Your Body

How Red Meat Affects Your Body

Eat red meat and you’ll get plenty high-quality protein, zinc, iron and vitamin B-12. However, you may also be more likely to develop health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cancer. This is especially true for processed meats, so you may want to skip sausages, bacon and ham the next time you’re planning a meal.

Heart Disease

Consuming processed meat, but not unprocessed red meat, is associated with a 42 percent increased risk for heart disease for every 50 grams of meat you eat per day, according to an article published in “Circulation” in 2010. To lower your risk, eat only moderate amounts of lean, unprocessed red meat, and choose seafood and beans more often for protein.

Diabetes

The 2010 “Circulation” study also found that each 50-gram serving of processed meats, but not unprocessed red meat, you eat in a day increases diabetes risk by 19 percent. Eating red meat, and, to a lesser extent, other types of animal protein, may increase your risk for gestational diabetes, according to an article published in “Diabetes Care” in February 2013. Trading 5 percent of your animal protein intake for vegetable protein lowers gestational diabetes risk by 51 percent.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome involves having at least three of five risk factors, which include a large waist, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high fasting blood sugar and low high-density lipoprotein levels. This condition increases your risk for other health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. People who consume larger amounts of red meat are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who only consume small amounts or none, according to a study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” in December 2008.

Cancer

Both red meat and processed meat may increase your risk for certain types of cancer, including lung cancer and colon cancer, and red meat may increase your risk for esophageal and liver cancer, according to a study published in “PLOS Medicine” in December 2007. Study participants who consumed the most of these meats experienced these types of cancer, but not other types, more often than those who consumed less red meat.