Meat as a component of a healthy diet - are there any risks or benefits if meat is avoided in the diet?

Meat Sci. 2005 Jul;70(3):509-24. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2004.07.017. Epub 2005 Mar 29.


Meat is frequently associated with a "negative" health image due to its "high" fat content and in the case of red meat is seen as a cancer-promoting food. Therefore, a low meat intake, especially red meat is recommended to avoid the risk of cancer, obesity and metabolic syndrome. However, this discussion overlooks the fact, that meat is an important source for some of micronutrients such as iron, selenium, vitamins A, B12 and folic acid. These micronutrients are either not present in plant derived food or have poor bioavailability. In addition, meat as a protein rich and carbohydrate "low" product contributes to a low glycemic index which is assumed to be "beneficial" with respect to overweight, the development of diabetes and cancer (insulin resistance hypothesis). Taken together meat is an important nutrient for human health and development. As an essential part of a mixed diet, meat ensures adequate delivery of essential micronutrients and amino acids and is involved in regulatory processes of energy metabolism.