As a carnivore diet lover, I include different meats in all my daily meals to meet my dietary protein needs. But are all meats safe to eat?
I sought expert advice from a dietician friend to understand if there are meats that I should avoid and why.
Here's what I found.
- Excess meat consumption can cause heart diseases and osteoporosis.
- It's advisable to avoid or limit consumption of all kinds of processed and cured meats.
- Lentils and tofu are some of the best healthy meat alternatives you can consider.
4 Potential Reasons to Avoid Eating Too Much Meat
While red meat can give you excellent nutrients, minerals, and great health benefits, eating meat in excess can pose serious health risks.
1. Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
A 3-oz. cooked ribeye steak has 68mg cholesterol and 29 g of fat, 8g of which is saturated and 3g trans fat, with the remaining being poly and monosaturated fats at 9g each .
These high saturated and trans fat can raise blood cholesterol levels leading to heart disease. Furthermore, when the body digests high-cholesterol foods such as red meat, it creates a compound known as trimethylamine N-Oxide (TMAO).
This compound causes arterial deep vein thrombosis, which can end up causing cardiovascular complications like stroke or heart attack .
Fatty red processed meats, such as ground beef and prosciutto, are the most likely to cause such issues. I recommend that you stick to leaner cuts of bison, pork chops, or roast beef if you can't cut your bad meat-eating habits.
2. High Colorectal Cancer Risks
Consuming many red and processed meats, such as cured meats, deli, and bacon, has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer and other cancers, including breast cancer .
Saturated fat and carcinogenic molecules generated during meat production and high-temperature cooking may play an important role .
On the other hand, plant protein foods can help protect against these types of cancers.
A study done with over 70,000 adults showed that people who ate most of the vegan healthy diet with fish and small amounts of lean meats had a lower prevalence rate of colorectal cancer when compared to those who ate red or processed meat diets regularly .
3. Risk of Getting Type 2-Diabetes
Consuming too much red and processed meat products may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Processed meat refers to any meat that has undergone salting, smoking, or curing processes to help elongate its shelf life.
Because red meat is fattier than other protein sources, excessive consumption causes lipids accumulation around muscles and body organs like the liver and pancreas .
High fat accumulation limits lipids metabolism because the lipids cells are blocked with fat; this causes insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes .
Also, compounds like nitrates added during meat processing can harm the pancreas.
Read More: Does Meat Cause Diabetes?
4. Risk of Osteoporosis
When you eat red meat like york strip steak or pork tenderloin in excess, you might increase your risk of getting osteoporosis, leading to decreased bone mass density and bone fragility that can cause death .
Red and processed meat have high amino acids that contain sulfur that, when metabolized in the body, sucks calcium from the bones leading to lower bone mass density in the long haul .
It would be best to have a healthy diet with moderate lean muscle meat consumption to avoid the adverse effects of osteoporosis.
"Generally, red meats have higher cholesterol and saturated fat content than fish, chicken, and vegetable proteins such as beans."
- Laura Smith, Clinical Dietitian
3 Types of Meat to Avoid
Here are specific meats that you should avoid and why:
1. Cured Meats
Cured meat like ham, bacon, hot dogs, and salami are generally unhealthy.
The curing process involves adding synthetic chemicals like nitrites to preserve the pinkish color of the meat and improve the flavor by limiting oxidation.
These chemical compounds harm the human body and can cause cancers .
2. Cold Cuts
Cold cuts like deli meats have about 500g of sodium per ounce. Eating excess cold cuts puts you at risk of excessive sodium intake, causing high blood pressure .
Cold cuts also have high saturated fat levels that can cause cardiovascular illnesses and arterial blood clots.
Post You May Like: Low Sodium Lunch Meat
3. Fatty Meat Cuts
Eating extra fatty meats can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, causing a stroke. These fattier meat cuts also have more cholesterol than protein or carbs, increasing your chances of gaining unhealthy weight.
High-fat red meat has also been linked to stomach cancers .
Healthy Alternatives to Meat
With all the downside to some meats, here are healthy alternatives that you should consider for a good protein fix.
Tofu, one of my favorite red meat substitutes, is made from coagulated soybeans and can be soft or firm. It has a fair and balanced flavor, so it goes well with various veggies and sauces.
It's simple to cook, and you can either grill, bake or fry it. The first important step when making tofu is pressing it because it has a lot of water.
Pressing removes the extra moisture, giving you a well-dried and crispy tofu.
Lentils are a veggie diet staple because of their functionality; they come in various colors, including brown, green, or black.
Lentils are a weekly staple for me. I love to make a meatless pilaff dish with lentils and roughly chopped sautéed mushrooms, which give the dish an equivalent meaty taste and a delicious strong flavor.
If you're trying lentils for the first time, remember to rinse well and cook until tender but not squishy. You can then add them to your meatless stews and salads.
3. Veggie Burgers
Veggie burgers are a fantastic non-meat option for a quick dinner that you can either make at home or order pre-made.
Here's a quick recipe if you decide to make it from scratch:
- Mix all your favorite veggie ingredients in a ball.
- Add whisked eggs
- Add flour and combine well
- Shape into patties and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
- To add more flavor, spice it up with garlic, chili flakes, and some smoked paprika.
If you are buying pre-made ones, look for the ones with whole food products on the ingredient list with the first main product as a vegetable or whole grain.
4. Black Turtle Beans
Homemade black turtle beans give you a deeper flavor than canned beans. Rich in fiber and folate, this dish is easy to prepare. Boil it well, cook with red onions, garlic, and spices of your choice, and serve it with rice on the side.
Also Read: What Is Plant Based Meat?
Which Meat Is Worse for Your Health?
Processed meat is worse for your health because of the added chemical compounds harmful to the body.
Which Is The Most Harmful Meat to Eat?
Raw meat, particularly lamb meat, is the most harmful to eat because it has the highest cholesterol levels compared to other meats.
Is Pork Worse Than Beef?
Yes, pork is worse than beef because lean pork has more saturated and trans fat than lean beef.
Choose Your Meat Wisely
Meat is a popular meal among carnivore dieters. But eating red meat that's inorganic and comes from animals that are under synthetic antibiotics and boosters can cause some severe health risks, including cancer risk.
To ensure you are consuming the meat from reputable sources, check out our list of best organic meat delivery services to get quality organic meat from grass-fed animals, GMO and antibiotic-free.