Red Meat: No Longer a No-No

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Health problems linked to red meat may actually be a result of processed meats’ salt content and fresh beef might actually be healthier than initially thought, according to a recent study.

Previous research on the health effects of red meat haven’t considered that processed meats might have a different impact on the body than unprocessed meats, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. But not all meat-eaters have the same meat-eating habits.

“The lifestyle factors associated with eating unprocessed red meats and processed meats were similar, but only processed meats were linked to higher risk," said Dariush Mozaffarian, a researcher at Harvard.

Bacon, sausage, deli meats and hot dogs were found to contain four times more sodium than fresh beef, lamb and pork, according to the study, which was published in a recent issue of the American Heart Association’s Circulation journal. Plus, processed meats contained 50% more nitrates, which are used as a preservative, the study found.

High salt consumption is known to increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, and nitrates can reduce tolerance to sugar, which can increase the risk of diabetes, Mozaffarian says.

But while salty meats were found to be much less healthy than, say, a steak or a burger, the risk of heart problems and Type 2 diabetes still remains small if you eat one serving of salty meats per week or less, the study suggests.

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