Nutritional advice: red meat good or bad

Many people love to have a piece of meat with dinner every day. Red meat contains healthy substances such as iron, proteins and B vitamins. It usually comes from pigs, cattle or horses. However, eating too much red meat is not recommended because it can be carcinogenic and increase the risk of stroke. Red meat can be eaten, but as part of a responsible diet. What exactly does “red” meat mean and how often can it be eaten?

What does red meat mean?

Red meat refers to meat that is red in color. It consists of muscle tissue that comes from pigs, cattle, sheep, horses, hares or other mammals. This does not include meat from poultry such as chicken or turkey that is white in color. The meat of some bird species such as geese, ducks, pigeons and ostriches also falls under red meat. This may involve meat that is raw or well-cooked or meat that you put on bread, such as processed meats.

The color of the meat

Red meat is distinguished from white meat because of the difference in the concentration of myoglobin in the muscle fibers. Myoglobin is the oxygen-binding protein that occurs in large quantities in muscle tissue. It ensures that the muscle tissue is red in color. This means that red meat contains relatively much myoglobin. These muscles are naturally developed in such a way that the muscles can work for long periods of time without a period of rest.In white meat tissue, the muscle fibers are structured in such a way that the muscles are designed to respond quickly, with a quick burst. These muscles tire relatively quickly. The number of different types of muscle fibers can vary per animal. As a result, the redness of the meat depends on the species, the age of the animal and the amount of exercise the animal has had.

How healthy is meat?

Meat provides important nutrients such as iron, zinc, protein and B vitamins. You therefore do not have to give up meat, including red meat. The Nutrition Center only advises not to eat red meat every day and to vary with white and red meat, meat products, eggs, fish and meat substitutes. Eating red meat three times a week is more than enough. Meat lovers in particular are inclined to eat large portions of meat in addition to a daily portion of red meat. The recommended amount of meat for an adult person is 100 to 125 grams per day. This includes cold cuts that are put on the sandwich.

What makes red meat unhealthy?

Eating red meat daily is not recommended. This is because red meat contains a lot of saturated fat, cholesterol and heme iron. Salt and nitrite are often included in processed meat products. It may also contain harmful PAHs that are formed during preparation. PAHs are harmful organic compounds that are produced, among other things, by burning meat, which often occurs during barbecuing. Therefore, it is highly discouraged to eat burnt meat.

Processed meat

Research has also shown that consuming too much processed meat contributes to an increased risk of stroke. Processed meat is high in salt and sodium. Examples of processed meat are: ham, cold cuts, sausage, Chinese sausage, pâté, salami and sausage rolls. With meat you also have to take into account that it may have been processed with antibiotics and hormones, which is not good for our bodies. Organ meat does not contain these substances.

What makes red meat healthy?

Eating red meat gives your body building blocks that are good for strong muscles and healthy hormones. It contains essential minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium that are easier for the human body to absorb than minerals from plant-based foods. Vitamin B12, which the body needs for the nervous system and circulatory system, is only found in animal products. This vitamin is abundantly present in beef. If you want to eat better quality meat, organic meat is recommended.

Cancer and heart disease

There are researchers who indicate that eating a lot of red meat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to research, the risk of premature death decreases if a portion of red meat is replaced by so-called white meat (poultry, fish), nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy or whole grain products. Eating large amounts of red meat can be dangerous to your health. It is associated with an increased risk of: colon cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer and esophageal cancer.


Red meat in particular contains a high amount of purine. Purine is a breakdown product of protein. This increases the risk of gout. It mainly occurs in men who have a high meat consumption. Although purine is also found in plant foods such as beans, mushrooms and spinach, it does not pose a risk of developing gout.


As long as you don’t eat red meat every day, with portions in moderation, meat can be a good part of your diet. It also contains good nutrients for our body. Although it contains saturated fat, our body also needs this. Only we don’t need that much of it. You can also pay attention to the quality of your meat by eating organic meat and not letting it burn during preparation.

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