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I am a New Zealand registered nurse and nutritionist (Grad Cert Sci: nutrition, Massey Univ). I am a Certified Zone Instructor, and have worked teaching Zone diet principles to hundreds of clients over the last 10 years. More recently after finding that eating Paleo food choices was the "icing on the cake" health wise, I have become a Paleo enthusiast and teacher. Follow me on twitter @juliannejtaylor

Should we be scared of red meat?

One food we are frequently being told to limit is red meat, as past studies appear to show eating lots of red meat is linked with heart disease and diabetes. Recently researchers at Harvard School of Public Health carried out a meta-analysis where they distinguished between eating red meat and processed meat and the risk of eating each on diabetes and heart disease.

“They have found that eating processed meat, such as bacon, sausage or processed deli meats, was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, the researchers did not find any higher risk of heart disease or diabetes among individuals eating unprocessed red meat, such as from beef, pork, or lamb.”

This is the first study that separated processed meats from unprocessed meats.  “Processed meat was defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives; examples include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats.”

This study is a correlation study – which does not imply cause. However, the message at this point appears to be clear – avoid or reduce the amount of processed meat you eat. It does have high levels of salt and nitrites which are best kept to a minimum.

The best and healthiest meats are wild, next best is grass fed organic and free range. Fortunately in New Zealand our animals feed on grass, however most poultry is fed on either grain or corn. So free range is best where chooks can eat grass and insects to supplement the grain.

More on this study can be found here:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2010-releases/processed-meats-unprocessed-heart-disease-diabetes.html

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