Toronto: Taking previous research that claimed red meat is dangerous to your health straight on its head, a new study consisting in-depth systematic reviews now suggest that you can continue to eat red and processed meat as usual at home. Researchers at McMaster and Dalhousie universities found that cutting back on red or processed meat had little impact on health.
"There is a worldwide interest in nutrition and the issue of red meat in particular. People need to be able to make decisions about their own diet based on the best information available," said Gordon Guyatt, Professor at McMaster University in a paper published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
The panel of international scientists systematically reviewed the evidence and recommended that most adults should continue to eat their current levels of red and processed meat. The researchers performed four systematic reviews focused on randomised controlled trials and observational studies looking at the impact of red meat and processed meat consumption on cardiometabolic and cancer outcomes.
In one review of 12 trials with 54,000 people, the researchers did not find statistically significant or an important association between meat consumption and the risk of heart disease, diabetes or cancer. In three systematic reviews of cohort studies following millions of people, a very small reduction in risk among those who had three fewer servings of red or processed meat a week, but the association was uncertain.
The researchers also did a fifth systematic review looking at people's attitudes and health-related values around eating red and processed meats. They found people eat meat because they see it as healthy, they like the taste and they are reluctant to change their diet.
"This is not just another study on red and processed meat, but a series of high quality systematic reviews resulting in recommendations we think are far more transparent, robust and reliable," said study researcher Bradley Johnston.