The Five Most Common Myths About Red Meat

Every few years, a new diet trend rises to the top. The Grapefruit Diet and Atkins have now been replaced with raw vegan and Paleo diets, but there are still some harmful myths that persist about foods that are actually entirely healthy. Outside of fat, the most demonized of these foods has likely been red meat.

Red meat has been blamed for all kinds of health ailments, most of which are much more complicated than whether or not you prefer beef or chicken. “Everything in moderation is healthy,” says Dr. Dirk. “Sometimes the side dishes and preparations that we choose aren’t so much, but red meat is healthy, not harmful.” To support this belief, Dallas-Fort Worth Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Dirk,  tackled five of the biggest myths surrounding red meat, especially for people who are looking to lose weight.

1. Red meat causes cancer.

Not even close. A 1986 Japanese study performed on rats found a link between chemical compounds found in overcooked beef and cancer, which caused widespread panic about the consumption of beef. Unfortunately for beef-haters, there has been no study that has been able to even tangentially prove that eating red meat can cause cancer. Even more encouraging, the popularity of grass-fed beef means that red meat that is high in antioxidants like CLA is becoming more widely available.

2. Red meat causes heart disease.

No way. Red meat is typically high in saturated fat, which used to be linked with clogged arteries and heart disease. Science has since completely disproven this link, especially now that modern farming operations have been able to minimize the amount of fat in many cuts of beef, resulting in a healthier product than ever. Obviously, people are better off eating leaner cuts of beef instead of fatty ones, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t okay to occasionally enjoy a juicy ribeye.

3. Red meat is less nutritious than other proteins

Wrong. Red meat may have more fat than, say, a chicken breast or chunk of tofu, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pack a serious nutritional punch. Red meat is high in iron, which is important considering that many adults and children are iron-deficient. Red meat also provides B12 and amino acids that are essential for your body. Of course, frying your steak in a skillet full of lard isn’t going to make it healthy, but when prepared in a health-conscious way, it can be an extremely nourishing part of your diet.

4. Meat will make you fat.

Wrong again. There is no food that makes you gain weight. Lifestyle choices make you gain weight, and if you eat only cheeseburgers and chicken fried steaks, you’re probably going to gain. If you add broiled or grilled lean sirloin to your diet in sensible portions, though, you’re probably not going to see the same effects. Lean beef can be an extremely healthy component of your diet, especially if prepared in a low-fat way. And yes, it can be delicious even after you take away all that oil, butter and flour.

5. Meat rots in the colon.

This myth is as completely untrue as it is gross. There is no scientific evidence that meat is not completely digested in the body, and it certainly doesn’t linger in the intestines. Assuming that your digestive system is working normally, the meat that you eat is quickly broken down into the nutrients that the body can use before eliminating any residual waste. Humans are omnivores, which means that our stomachs are naturally designed to digest meat effectively. Rest assured—that steak you had six months ago isn’t still sitting (literally) around your waistline.