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Why Is Red Meat Bad for You?

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Red Meat

red meat

red meat

About Meat

Although meat has been consumed since primitive times, it was vastly different then, than what it is today. Animals back then foraged on grass, insects, etc, in fact, on all things natural, unlike today, when they are born and raised unnaturally. and fed antibiotics and hormones, to increase their survival rate and production.

Today this meat is also processed heavily after slaughtering, and various preservatives and chemicals are added to make it more palatable and increase its shelf life.

Therefore, the meat we get today is far inferior in quality, to the unprocessed and natural meat that our ancestors ate.

This, to a great extent, is the reason, meat eaters back then did not suffer from the range of maladies and diseases that many meat eaters today suffer from.

What Is Red Meat?

Those meats which are red or dark in colour in their raw state are red meats. The meat of beef, lamb and pork are among those considered red meat.

However, the meat of a young pig, ie, a suckling pig, is considered white. The same rule applies to lamb and veal.

Red meat contains more myoglobin than white meat. Myoglobin is the iron and oxygen-binding protein found in the muscles of all vertebrates and mammals. It is similar to haemoglobin which is its equivalent found in the blood, especially, the red blood cells.

In humans, myoglobin is only found in the blood after a muscle is injured.

Grilling Sausages

sausages being barbecued

sausages being barbecued

Why Is Red Meat Bad For You?

Although red meat is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants & other nutrients, with the meat of grass-fed animals being even more nutritious, the fact is that red meat is:

  • High in saturated fat & cholesterol

This raises blood cholesterol levels and high cholesterol levels which increase the risk of heart disease.

Added to this is the fact that red meat (in fact, meat) not only makes the blood vessels hard and rigid, thereby reducing their flexibility but also causes clogging of the arteries as per a study published in the Nature Medicine Journal.

The causative culprit is the compound Carnitine, (also added to some energy drinks), which is converted to trimethylamine-N-oxide which facilitates cholesterol deposition in arteries which damages the heart. Increased levels of carnitine thus directly increase the risk of heart disease.

  • Red meat consumption reduces the lifespan

It has been found in a study by the Harvard School of Public Health that red meat consumption increases the risk of a reduced lifespan.

Processed red meats like salami, hot dogs and the like are the worst culprits. It has been found that when meats are charred or barbecued, the toxic nitrosamines are produced. These increase the risk of cancer as well.

  • Pork Slime - a risky additive
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Pork Slime also called lean finely textured beef (LFTB), made of beef trimmings, is a meat additive added to ground beef and other processed meat. The process of making pink slime is fraught with health dangers as it increases the chances of bacteria getting into the food and then into your body.

  • Fillets - not safe either

Scrap meat pieces are glued together with transglutaminase, an enzyme that is produced from bacteria by fermentation. When you realize that the more the number of different meat pieces that are needed to make a fillet, it is easy to realize that a greater number of animals contribute to that fillet thus effectively raising the risk of contamination & disease.

Diseases like E.coli, which can cause severe gastrointestinal issues, increase as the number of animals that contribute to the ground beef increases.

  • Heme iron - risks

Red meat, and other meat as well, contains heme iron, the form of iron which produces compounds that can damage cells and cause cancer.

A report published by JAMA Internal Medicine concludes that regular red meat or processed meat consumption increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
It was found that those who consumed 3.5 ounces of red meat daily, this translates to having 1 hot dog or 2 bacon slices every day, increased their risk factor by 19% or 51% respectively.

  • High iron risks

Meat is high in iron. Excess iron in the brain increases the risk of Alzheimer's, as per a study from UCLA.

The excess iron in the brain destroys myelin, the safety coating of nerve fibres, thus upsetting brain communication.

In people with hereditary or family history of cancer, red processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

The hormones added to red meat raise breast cancer risk as per a study on more than 90000 women indicate. This report was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Red Meat Is Bad For You

Red Meat & Diabetes

Red Meat & Cancer

Homemade Slime Risks

To Conclude

It should suffice to say that though saturated fat and cholesterol are a small part of the dangers associated with red meat consumption, in combination with other factors, like processing, excess iron, sodium nitrates, hormones, antibiotics and others this raises the risk to the health of those who either are heavy red meat eaters or consume it on a daily basis.

If at all you cannot avoid eating it you can

  • go for the comparatively healthier lean meat cuts
  • consume it just a few times a week
  • reduce the portion size
  • avoid processed meats completely
  • avoid high-temperature cooking like barbecuing, smoking & grilling
  • combine meat with fresh veggies, whole grains & fruit



This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly


Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 01, 2017:

Besides the antibiotics and other chemicals given to animals, it is red meat itself that is the cause of a lot of health issues particularly if one eats a lot of it. Appreciate your inputs. Thanks for reading Peggy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 30, 2017:

There is risk in so much of what we consume. Some fish like swordfish and tuna are loaded with mercury and those should be limited to no more than a couple times a week maximum. We do eat less red meat than in the past and try to find those that have never been given antibiotics. That goes for chickens also. At least now more companies are advertising those that have been raised organically and antibiotic free. Good article!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 20, 2017:

To each his own I guess Haider Mama.

Haider from Melbourne on May 06, 2017:

I think if you eat red meat in limit than that would be fine. There's probably no harm in getting red meat. It is when you start consuming red meat in huge amount.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 05, 2016:

Pork is white meat so it is fine as long as you skip the fatty portions. Chicken is good & fish the best. Indulging once in a while is a treat one needs. Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. I regret the delay in replying.

Kaili Bisson from Canada on October 02, 2016:

Eating white meat sparingly is exactly the way to go rajan. I guess I would have to include pork in that, as long as you know how the animals are raised. I do enjoy pork ribs from time to time and pork tenderloin too. But we only ever do those on the bbq, which means they are confined to the summer months. During winter, it is all fish and chicken. But beef...ugh. I cannot stand the taste.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 01, 2016:

Audrey, going vegetarian is the best, like you are. Second best would be to eat white meat sparingly. It would save a lot of health issues people face due to eating meat as these are full of hormones & antibiotics that are injected and fed to them. Thanks for visiting.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 01, 2016:

Phylliis glad you like the article and I find a lot many people veering off red meat because of increased health issues and concerns. Glad you prefer white meat & fish. Thanks for stopping by.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 01, 2016:

Chitrangada, red meat has so much going against it as far as heath is concerned that it is better to avoid it totally. I agree if someone cannot live without meat then it is better to go for white meat and then too limit its consumption.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 01, 2016:

You are so correct Kaili. It's all about money today for very many people and how fast one can make it, the method notwithstanding.Taking a life for one's own pleasure or taste is just not right when one has veggie options.

Kaili Bisson from Canada on September 30, 2016:

Hello rajan,

Great hub as always. The interesting thing that you may or may not be aware of is that here in North America, pork is marketed as being "the other white meat". They don't distinguish between suckling pigs and older pigs in order to make us believe we are eating "white" meat when we consume pork.

All animals destined for mass market - and that includes poultry - are pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. No wonder we have the rate of illness we do.

I quit red meat after backpacking in Europe in 1976. Whenever it ends up on my plate by accident these days, all I can taste is blood. Yuk!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 21, 2016:

A very well written and well researched hub about red meat!

We avoid it as much as we can . You have summed up the risk factors very nicely. It is better to take fish or chicken if someone enjoys non vegetarian foods. Everything must be taken in moderate quantity.

Thanks for the helpful and informative hub!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 19, 2016:

This is really very informative hub about red meat and why it should be avoided.

We do try to avoid red meat as much as possible. Fish and chicken is much more preferable to us.

Thanks for the reminder through this well researched, helpful and informative hub!

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on August 13, 2016:

Hi Rajan. Thank you for this great, very informative article. I knew red meat was not very healthy for us, but did not know the extent of the reasons why. For the last several years I rarely eat red meats anymore. I prefer chicken, seafood or fish. Thanks again for this hub.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on August 13, 2016:

Being a vegetarian I do not eat meat. The treatment of livestock alone before slautering makes me sick and angry. The valid reasons you've given in this hub should alarm most people causing them to adopt a different nutrition style.

Excellent hub!

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 02, 2016:

An occasional indulgence is okay John. Good to know you eat more of the healthier stuff. Thanks for reading and also leaving a comment.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on July 30, 2016:

A well-researched hub, Rajan. I eat a lot less red meat then I used to, but still enjoy ordering a steak if I go to a restaurant occasionally. These days, we tend to eat more fish and chicken along with fruit and vegetables.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 29, 2016:

MsDora myoglobin is present in muscle and is released into bloodstream following an muscle injury/damage. Thanks for reading.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 27, 2016:

Myoglobin in blood only after injury is news to me, and "Red meat consumption reduces lifespan" shouldn't need much argument. Thanks for the information and warning.

Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 27, 2016:

@Flourish, eating meat or not is a personal choice. My hub was just to bring to the fore the ill effects of red meat. I stopped eating meat long ago, red, white or otherwise and it just does not agree with my system anymore. I'm glad you like the hub. Thanks!

@Bill, I fully agree with you my friend. This was a reminder with some links thrown in though I'm aware most people know about it. Appreciate your stopping by.

@manatita bro, you are so very right. To each his own though. Just wanted to give a shoutout. Thank you & God bless.

@tireless traveller, eating healthy is not only tricky but quite difficult for most of us. Organic is the best option at the moment.

@teaches, you are doing just right in opting for the best option. It's okay to indulge once in a way. Thanks for visiting.

Dianna Mendez on July 26, 2016:

We try to keep our consumption of red meat to a minimum, preferring fish and poultry in general. Good information to have on this meat option.

Judy Specht from California on July 25, 2016:

Eating well is such a tricky business. I have been reading about eating to your blood type. It is my belief that some people should almost never eat red meat and others should eat it regularly. I whole heartedly agree the quality of meat is important. Organic is best

manatita44 from london on July 24, 2016:

Very interesting article. I feel that many people know this one and it has been highlighted so many times! Great and good of you to bring it to the surface once more in such a lucid and cohesive manner. Om Shanti!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2016:

This is a tough sell in the United States. It might be easier to ban guns in this country than to convince Americans to give up their meat. LOL Everything you say is true, but Americans and hamburgers.....I just don't see that anti-meat campaign gaining traction here.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 24, 2016:

I used to be an avid consumer of red meat but stopped cold turkey in 1995 because I wanted to give up the meat of one animal and that was the most impactful decision personally for me. On the extremely rare occasion when I am accidentally served red meat (e.g., on a pizza that was not as it was ordered) I can taste it, as it tastes bloody to me. This was an excellent hub highlighting the health impacts of the choice. Bravo!

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