Luke Stanaway

Registered Nutritionist

The Truth About Red Meat: Debunking The Myths 

The Truth About Red Meat: Debunking The Myths 

The Truth About Red Meat: Debunking The Myths 

Key Takeways

  • Red meat has a bad reputation due to media portrayal, but it is unfairly criticized.

  • Beef is a good source of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, creatine, and carnitine.

  • Half of the beef's fat is monounsaturated fat with health benefits, and 30% of the saturated fat comes from stearic acid with no effect on blood cholesterol levels.

  • To reap the benefits of red meat, it must be grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, GMO-free, and lean cuts such as sirloin, rump, and premium mince must be chosen.

Red meat still has a bad reputation in today's society for increasing the risk of heart disease and increasing LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). It's really sad because people are just following what the media says, and red meat is unfairly taking the fall.  

What if I told you that red meat is unquestionably good if comparing calorie for calorie against other meats? Beef contains all of the essential amino acids, which the body cannot produce and must be consumed for proper metabolic function. It contains significantly more vitamins and minerals, such as zinc (essential for muscle growth and testosterone production), selenium (which is deficient in New Zealand soils), and vitamin B complex, particularly B12 (all very important in metabolic functions and red blood cell production). 

Not only that, but beef contains approximately 4-5 grammes of creatine per kg of beef. This is significant because creatine, along with phosphate, serves as an important source of energy in the muscles and the brain. 

But wait, there's more. It also has a high level of carnitine when compared to other protein sources. This carnitine acts as a fat transporter, transporting fat into the mitochondria for use as energy. So what about LDL and saturated fat? Red meat contains more fat than leaner meats like chicken; this is common knowledge, but what the media fails to mention is that half of beef's fat is monounsaturated fat, which has numerous health benefits. More importantly, about 30% of the saturated fat comes from stearic acid, which has no effect on blood cholesterol levels. If that isn't enough, there is still debate about whether saturated fat in the diet increases the risk of heart disease. While it is true that reducing saturated fat in the diet will lower LDL levels, it may also lower HDL (good cholesterol), which is protective against heart disease. This means that eating saturated fat may improve your HDL cholesterol ratio and lower your risk of heart disease. While the above points are all positive there are a few things that you need to consider when purchasing and eating red meat: It must be derived from grass-fed cattle. Hormone-free. 

Antibiotic-free. It must be GMO-free. Choice lean cuts of meat such as sirloin, rump, and premium mince are best. Don't overcook the meat. So, now that you have a better picture of red meat, I'll let you be the judge on whether you include it in your week of meals.