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“Medical Facts About Meats”

Controversy surrounds the health impact of various meats. The consumption of saturated fats in red meats and dairy products has been considered causative of heart disease for decades. Red meat is the name used for the meat from mammals—like beef, lamb, and pork. White meats include poultry, like chicken and turkey. Processed meat includes sausage, bacon, beef jerky, corned beef, salami, and more. New research supports the notion that red meat can be incorporated into a healthier diet. Currently, 77% of Americans exceed recommended levels of saturated fat, and meat is a major contributor to this. Red meat is a nutrient-rich food, not only as a source for protein but also bioavailable iron. Experts found that consuming more than half a serving per day of red meat, which is equivalent to a 3-ounce serving three times per week, did not worsen blood pressure and blood total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride concentrations. According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, a healthy dietary pattern can include lean meats and poultry, but should involve “relatively lower consumption of red and processed meats.” Beef is a great source of several vitamins and minerals, including iron and vitamin B12, which assists in red blood-cell production. It is also a good source of zinc, which helps the body produce testosterone, and selenium. However, increased consumption of red meat is associated with higher risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and all-cause mortality.

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