Most of us will have seen the headlines surrounding processed red meat. It's bad for us. It's a carcinogen, which effectively means it's on a list of substances like alcohol and tobacco, linked to an increase in the likelihood of cancer. Red meat is often lumped in with processed meat as one of the reasons people switch to a vegetarian diet.
However, there's lots of benefits in red meat, especially lean, high-quality red meat such as steak cooked in a healthy way (such as on one of our best grills). In excess, it could still contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle, but red meat is an excellent source of protein, iron and healthy fats, all of which are essential for healthy muscle and bone development.
One new study, published by researchers from Penn State (opens in new tab), highlights the benefits of a small amount of red meat included in one of the healthiest eating philosophies in the world: the Mediterranean diet. Light on meat, grains and processed carbs, and heavy on fish, green vegetables and olive oil, the Med diet is widely recognised as an extremely healthy way to eat.
According to the study, consuming lean red meat in moderation, when added to the Mediterranean diet, helped lower risk factors for developing heart disease, such as LDL or "bad" cholesterol. It shows healthy diets can include a wide variety of different kinds of foods, including those previously thought to be bad for you – as long as it's done in moderation.
Jennifer Fleming, assistant teaching professor of nutrition at Penn State, said: "When you create a healthy diet built on fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, it leaves room for moderate amounts of other foods like lean beef."
Fleming says there are still important nutrients in beef that you can benefit from by eating lean cuts like the loin or round, or lean ground beef under 7% fat.
The Med diet is enormously helpful for reducing your waistline, improving inflammation, your mental health and increasing your antioxidant levels, according to several studies (opens in new tab). As well as fish, you can switch up your protein sources gult-free to include a little red meat without worrying about the impact it will have on your heart, making the most of all that training with the best adjustable dumbbells.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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