Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Does Red Meat Deserve Its Bad Reputation?


Because Australian red meat differs so significantly from other western countries, we need to be very careful about interpreting the results of major studies examining health outcomes associated with red meat intake.

By Amanda Patterson

Returning to the tradition of eating “meat and three veg” for dinner may improve the eating patterns and nutritional status of Australians, and help to reduce rates of chronic disease.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Red meat is an excellent source of iron and zinc, vitamin B12, good quality protein, niacin, vitamin B6 and phosphorus. In fact, a 100 gram serving provides more than 25% of the Recommended Dietary Intake for each of these nutrients. Red meat is also a significant contributor to intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and selenium. Despite this extraordinary contribution to nutrient intakes, red meat has received bad press for the past three decades or more.

Fatty red meat has been linked to increased LDL cholesterol levels and heart disease in the past, but Australia’s pattern of meat consumption has changed significantly. We now choose leaner cuts of red meat and remove separable fat. Consumer preferences for lean meat have seen changes to the production of meat in terms of breeding, feeding practices and modern butchery techniques, so that the proportion of separable fat has declined significantly. For Australians who regularly trim this separable fat, the lean meat they consume is typically less than 7% fat – a similar fat content to a dry whole-wheat cracker and significantly less than a typical muesli bar.

The 1995 National Nutrition Survey, Australia’s most recent source of national dietary data for adults, found that adult men and women consumed 99 grams and 54 gram of red meats per day, respectively. While these values may not...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.