By Joe Okoro
If you have ever being diagnosed of High blood pressure, one of the advice given by doctors among many others to the new hypertensive patient is to minimize the intake of Red meat. Africans generally love eating red meats. In Nigeria, the Yorubas and the Ibos are among the highest eaters of red meat and that is why a generous percentage of the population of people from these areas are fat. Personally, I love eating red meat, until I became conscious of the health risks associated with it some few years back. In today’s article, I shall be giving you information based on research and scientific data on the ill effects of eating red meats. At the end of this article, you shall have an informed choice when it comes to eating red meat. One question I found when I was researching on the topic of eating red meat is: “Does Eating of Red Meat Increase The Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease?” Studies have shown that red meats have a high amount of saturated fat, and this has the increased tendency to raise blood cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol increases the risk of a heart disease. LDL Cholesterol stand for Low Density Lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) What About Cancer? Does Eating of Red Meat Cause It As Well? There is no clear evidence that red meat causes cancer. However, there is a certain type of cancer that is induced by excessive consumption of red meat, Colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer or Colon cancer is the growth of cancerous cells in the colon. In fact a recent study of over 500,000 Americans who ate red meat over a period of 10 years revealed that they were more likely to die of cancer and heart disease sooner than those who ate smaller amounts. Another study involving 72,000 women who ate high amounts of red meat who were followed over an 18 year period reveals that this group had an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and death from other causes. Now the question is, If Eating Red Meat Increases The Risk of Cancer, What Then Is The Cause of Cancer? Just as I have stated earlier, scientists have not being able to pinpoint exactly what causes cancer from eating red meats. However, presently, research and experiment is undergoing in the following areas which eating red meats causes… Saturated fats in red meat is being studied, since this has been linked to colon and breast cancers as well as heart disease. Carcinogens which is released when meat is cooked is being studied as well. Heme Iron, a nutrient found in meat which may produce compounds that damage cells that leads to cancer is also under study. What Are The Sources of Red Meat? Well, I believe we already know the sources of red meat. However, since this article is about red meats, this article will be incomplete if the sources are not mentioned. Here are common sources of red meats. • Cow meat • Goat meat • Dog meat • Pork meat • All bush meats • All meats from animals except birds Apart From Protein, Are There Other Nutritional Benefits From Eating Red Meats? Yes, red meat is very nutritious. Infact it is a good source of protein which helps to build the muscles and bones. Red meat is also high in Iron, an important nutrient young women need in their child bearing years. It also contains Vitamin B12 which nourishes the nerves and DNA as well as the red blood cells. Zinc is another nutrient derived from red meat which helps to keep the immune system strong and effective to prevent diseases. In view of the Pros and Cons we have uncovered in this article about red meats, should we still eat it? It depends. Yes, it depends on YOU! If you decide to continue eating red meat, then you should consider eating it in very little amount. A piece of meat in the food twice or thrice in a week is healthy. However, if you want optimum health and to completely avoid the risks associated with eating red meats, It is always a better option to either eat it in moderation or substitute it with “White meats”. All the nutrients that red meat supplies can be obtained from other sources of meat. Instead of eating red meats, it’s always better to choose other sources of meats that have a good amount of lean proteins, an example is white meats from poultry. Here are healthier choices for your meats Sea foods These include fishes, crabs, prawns, crustaceans, Periwinkle, eel, etc Birds These includes, chicken, turkey, pigeon, etc Snails These choices for meats have lower amounts of cholesterol, fats, and proteins and are better for a healthy body. And if you want to lose weight, you don’t have a better choice than either limiting your red meat in take, or cutting it out completely and replacing with the above meat choices.