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Red Meat. Should You Avoid It?

Red Meat – Should You Avoid It?

In my years as a registered dietitian and diabetes educator, I have provided a variety of dietary guidance. The advice has changed throughout the years as research has advanced and as my knowledge and understanding of medical conditions has grown. However, one dietary recommendation that I have consistently made is to consume red meat with caution.

This recommendation was recently reaffirmed after reading an article from Clinical Endocrinology News which reported that a high intake of red meat “may increase the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.”1

Red meat’s reputation has been repeatedly challenged due its connection with other medical conditions, namely heart disease and cancer. In 2017 The International Journal of Preventative Medicine reported, “Visible fat and preservatives are the major issues in the link between red meat and increased cardiovascular risk”2. In 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer reported that intake of red meat and processed meat may increase the risk of cancer; in particular, colorectal cancer and possibly pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.3,4

There are several eating styles that have shown to have positive health outcomes; all of which recommend intake of red meat be reduce or eliminated:

In my experience with the community, I have found that many individuals choose to follow a low carb diet or a reduced carb diet to help manage their diabetes. This type of eating plan, for many, results in an increased intake in protein rich foods thus meaning a potential increase in red meat intake.

what amount of red meat is safe to eat?

If you choose to eat red meat or processed meat, what amount is considered to be safe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made the following recommendation for red meat and processed meat: Limit red meat consumption to no more than 12 to 18 oz. per week and avoid processed meats5 Another recommendation for processed meat is to limit intake to 50 grams or less per week.1

What is considered red meat?

  • beef
  • veal
  • pork
  • lamb
  • mutton (sheep)
  • horse
  • goat3,4

What is considered processed meat?

“Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation.” 3,4 Examples include: hot dogs, ham, salami, sausages, corned beef, and beef jerky 3,4

Alternatives to red meat and processed meat:

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Nogrady B. Higher intake of red meat link to insulin resistance. Clinical Endocrinology News. April 2018: 12-13.
  2. Bronzato S, Durante A. A Contemporary Review of the Relationship between Red Meat Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk. International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2017; 8:40. doi:10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_206_16.
  3. Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. World Health Organization Web site. Published October 2015. Accessed June 10, 2018.
  4. IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat. World Health Organization Web site.  Published October 26, 2015. Accessed June 10, 2018.
  5. Recommendation on Red and Processed Meat. American Institute for Cancer Research Web site. Accessed June 10, 2018.


  • Thomas A McAtee Jr. moderator
    12 months ago

    Odd. I always thought that pork was considered as ‘White’ meat.

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