Red meat can actually be good for you. Yeah, you read that right. Despite everything you’ve been told, red meat can provide therapeutic benefits.
I know what you’re thinking. Red meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Therefore, red meat increases the risk of heart disease.
However, dietary cholesterol and saturated fat have become less of a concern in recent years. Some studies have even concluded that there is no link between saturated fat and the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, or the risk of death from any cause.
Seemingly, the amount of red meat you consume plays a factor. Some research shows that daily red meat consumption increases the risk of heart failure. On the other hand, a meta-analysis published in January found that eating just three ounces of red meat three times weekly didn’t lead to an increase of cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Is Red Meat Ever Good for You?
Could eating red meat even be beneficial to your health? I mean, red meat is loaded with protein and nutrients in amounts that are difficult to find anywhere else, right?
There is a Manhattan-based holistic psychiatrist who has been healing women with animal foods like beef, pork, and lamb. And, believe me, this recommendation is often met with disbelief and even confusion. However, by and large, Dr. Kelly Brogan’s patients only got better when animal foods were included in their diets.
Is there any research to support this? I’m glad you asked.
Red Meat Benefits: What the Research Says
Researchers from Australia sought to demonstrate how red meat benefits those with depression and anxiety in 2012. They looked at a group of 1,046 women aged 20 to 93 years, and found something jaw dropping.
The women who ate less than three to four servings of lamb or beef weekly were twice as likely to get a depression and/or anxiety diagnosis. That’s right: TWICE as likely. The researchers also discovered that lifestyle and demographics could not have accounted for the result.
It is also important to note that Australian meat is considerably grass-fed. The type of red meat you consume always matters. Avoid processed meat at all cost. It is best to choose meat that is antibiotic- and steroid-free, as well as organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised. I even go as far to know the farmer personally.
How Red Meat Treats Depression and Mental Illness
How can red meat benefit people with depression and other mental illness? For starters, nearly 50% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 is found in grass-fed beef. It is also a good source of other B vitamins like B2, B3, and B6.
Grass-fed beef is also an incredibly high source of protein, particularly essential and conditionally essential amino acids—especially isoleucine, cysteine, histidine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, tyrosine, and tryptophan.
All of these nutrients benefit mental health. Furthermore, eating protein is crucial for balancing blood sugar, which plays a role in depression and mental illness. Studies even show a correlation between high blood sugar levels and negative moods.
All in all, I can see why having high doses of red meat—even for the short-term—can improve someone’s mental health. A lot of good can happen when we move beyond certain dogmas and cultural expectations of what is said to be good for us.
No Diet Is ‘One Size Fits All’
Nowadays, vegetarian and vegan diets are being marketed as cure-alls for everyone. But, plant-based diets don’t have to be limited to plants. Rather, they can include mostly plants. Vegetables, for example, make up the majority of my diet. At the same time, I avoid addictive substances, including dairy, wheat, sugar, and even coffee and alcohol.
My point is that there isn’t one diet to fit all. There are millions of people on this planet, and there are different diets for each one of them. It is possible that enjoying a burger (without the bun), or a medium-rare steak, could free you from depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. Just keep in mind that the rest of your plate should be loaded with lots of veggies.
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De Souza, R.J., et al., “Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies,” BMJ, 2015; 351: h3978, doi: 10.1136/bmj.h3978.
O’Connor, L.E., et al., “Total red meat intake of >0.5 servings/d does not negatively influence cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systemically searched meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2017; 105(1): 57-69, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.142521.
Gonder-Frederick, L.A., et al., “Mood changes associated with blood glucose fluctuations in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus,” Health Psychology, 1989; 8(1): 45-59. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2707223.
Whiteman, H., “Red meat: Good or bad health?” MedicalNewsToday, January 25, 2017; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315449.php, last accessed Aug. 1, 2017.