• Subject Name : food and nutrition

Human Risk of Diseases Associated with Red Meat Intake

Table of Contents


Nutritional importance of red meat and poultry.

Negative health aspects of red meat and poultry.

Possible safety concerns regarding red meat and poultry.

Recent views of red meat and poultry.



Introduction to Red Meat and Poultry

Before the invention of food, human race has been hunting animals for their flesh. They have been haunting and killing animals since the prehistoric times (9). This meat has been the main source of food for humans, prior to the discovery of other food options and evolution of various other food recipes. It all started with keeping animals and pets, these animals included, pigs, chickens, rabbits and cattle. However, it eventually led to their use in meat industry on a large production sale with the help of slaughter houses.

Meat is also an important part of the economy and culture of many nations. There is a major risk to the larger group of population, due to consumption of meat, still it is produced in large amounts on a daily basis. Meat which is generally left unprocessed for long, tend to decompose and rot within hours or days (10). Despite all concern’s meat can be a good source of nutritional value, optimal for all age group of individuals.

Nutritional Importance of Red Meat and Poultry

Red meat is found to have a good biological value protein (13). It contains a good number of micronutrients which are helpful for promoting a good health status throughout life. Red meat comprises of various nutritional components such as ranges of fat, omega-3 and various polyunsaturated fats. The nutritional component of red meat might vary with the various sources it is coming from. Some sources may be rich in fat, while other sources can be rich in various proteins and essential vitamins and minerals. Red meat can include beef, veal, lamb and mutton. These food products are found to be rich in proteins and amino acids, fatty acids, trans fatty acids, choline, vitamins and minerals as well.

  • Minerals- Beef and lambs are considered to be a good source of minerals such as iron and zinc (Fowler, 2019). Iron content in the red meat is found to improve the overall absorption of iron in blood. The zinc supplement provided by a good source of red meat, can be 10 folds better than the one provided by ant other plant source.
  • Vitamins- Red meat is also found to be a good source of vitamin B12. Liver portion of red meat is considered to be good source of vitamin A. Recent studies have also shown that lamb meat can be a good source of vitamin D for the consumers (3). A good cooked beef can compensate for the lost production of vitamin D in the individuals consuming the same.
  • Choline- Choline is a precursor for compounds such as neurotransmitters and membrane phospholipids. Liver and red meat in the form of beef, have been recently found to be a good source of Choline for the individuals consuming it in diet (1).
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids- Pasture beef is acknowledged as a good and viable source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Beef and lamb are also considered to be a good source of omega-3 fats, which are necessary for overall sound functioning of the bodily functions and systems.
  • Protein and amino acids- Protein reserves from red meat provides an individual with all essential amino acids. Amino acids such as glutamic acid, alanine and aspartic acid can be found in the red meat. They are also an essential component of a balance diet plan (5).

Negative Health Aspects of Red Meat and Poultry

Red meat may be a good source of multiple energy conserves, some studies suggest certain viable risks from regular consumption of the same in the diet. These concerns are as follow:

  • Few studies suggest that eating red meat on a daily basis can reduce the life span of an individual (2). So, a meat eater can introduce multiple other sources of food along with red meat consumption, to reduce its negative impact on the lifestyle.
  • Few researches have also shown that consuming red meat can also increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular and certain cancers. These studies have also indicated an elevated risk of mortality with the intake of red meat (14).
  • Red meat is also a good source of saturated fats. However, the body needs fat but an overconsumption of the same, might be life-threatening condition for the person. Saturated fat also found to cause clogging of arteries, which eventually leads to risk of developing cardiovascular conditions and complications.
  • Red meat is also found to be high in cholesterol content. This high content in cholesterol is also a major cause of development of cardiovascular and other renal conditions.
  • Red meat is also found to be major cause of formation of colorectal cancer in the individuals. This fact goes valid for fresh as well as processed red meat (12).
  • Some meats that are cooked at a higher temperature, can lead to the development of chemical reactions. These chemical reactions results in producing harmful compounds. These harmful compounds can also cause stomach cancer in the people consuming.
  • Red meat is also found to be directly related to the development of kidney problems and other digestion related issues as well.

Possible Safety Concerns Regarding Red Meat and Poultry

Poultry may be a potential source of toxic elements such as arsenic, cadmium or lead. These elements can be passed on in various food materials through soil, environment and other mediums as well. These toxic elements are also found to have a negative impact on the health of an individual. These components can have the following response on the individual health:

  • Arsenic- Poultry products have been found to be a sound source of spreading diseases. This arsenic content has been found to accelerate the growth of various disease. The arsenic is also excreted out by the poultry and is then mixed with the soil, eventually consumed by other living beings. This residual arsenic is also found to be parts of red meat such as liver, body fat and so on (6).
  • Lead- Lead content is also found to be in high amounts in food materials such as red meat and poultry. This high content of lead is found to cause various conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular conditions, constipation, anemia, constipations and so on. High content of lead consumed through the various poultry products is also found to develop various neurological conditions as well.
  • Cadmium- Cadmium content is also found to be high in various food products, let alone poultry and its by-product. Cadmium is found to get consumed in the body through liver and kidney in humans. It is also found to have a damaging effect on kidney functions as well, hampering the glomerular filtration rate. This renal impairment is found to cause cancer as well. It is also found to increase the risk on lung, endometrium, urinary bladder and leads to the formation of breast cancer in patients (11).

Recent Views of Red Meat and Poultry

As per recent studies conducted, the use of red meat in diet is found to be beneficial, only if it consumed in a limited amount (7). However, the diet should be inclusive of balanced amount of meat as well as vegetable products. However, the overall compilation of results abstracted from various studies, suggest that consuming red meat is found to increase the cardiovascular risk in the person and thus, deteriorating overall healthcare outcomes in the person. Not only the associated cardiovascular risk was found to be increased by 3-7% with red meat consumption, but it was also found to increase the risk of premature death (8). This rate was higher even in people who consumed completely processed meat, having at least two servings in a week. So, even with a low consumption of meat and other poultry products, the underlying risks are still evidently possible. Some studies reflect on a good effect of consumption of red meat and other studies show a decrease in the overall health status of the person consuming the same. Relation to the cooking method can also be related to the effects of red meat on the person consuming the same. An unprocessed meat is found to have more detrimental effects on the person as compared to full cooked or properly cooked meat.

Conclusion on Red Meat and Poultry

In conclusion, the red meat can have both positive as well as negative effect on the person. However, the consumption of red meat should be in a balanced amount and should also be less in frequency, to reduce the overall impact of it on the health outcomes of the person. The impact of red meat on the person can also be altered with personal history and personal diet choices. People having a history of any genetic disorders, smoking history, alcohol history and so on, can also be found to have a higher risk of developing other heath related concerns in an individual.

References for Red Meat and Poultry

Alisson-Silva F, Kawanishi K, Varki A. Human risk of diseases associated with red meat intake: Analysis of current theories and proposed role for metabolic incorporation of a non-human sialic acid. Molecular aspects of medicine. 2016 Oct 1;51:16-30.

Burd NA, McKenna CF, Salvador AF, Paulussen KJ, Moore DR. Dietary protein quantity, quality, and exercise are key to healthy living: a muscle-centric perspective across the lifespan. Frontiers in nutrition. 2019;6:83.

De Andrade JC, de Aguiar Sobral L, Ares G, Deliza R. Understanding consumers' perception of lamb meat using free word association. Meat science. 2016 Jul 1;117:68-74.

Fowler SM, Morris S, Hopkins DL. Nutritional composition of lamb retail cuts from the carcases of extensively finished lambs. Meat science. 2019 Aug 1;154:126-32.

Gabbai FB. The role of renal response to amino acid infusion and oral protein load in normal kidneys and kidney with acute and chronic disease. Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension. 2018 Jan 1;27(1):23-9.

Hashemi M, Sadeghi A, Saghi M, Aminzare M, Raeisi M, Rezayi M, Sany SB. Health risk assessment for human exposure to trace metals and arsenic via consumption of hen egg collected from largest poultry industry in Iran. Biological trace element research. 2019 Apr 15;188(2):485-93.

Johnston BC, Zeraatkar D, Han MA, Vernooij RW, Valli C, El Dib R, Marshall C, Stover PJ, Fairweather-Taitt S, Wójcik G, Bhatia F. Unprocessed red meat and processed meat consumption: dietary guideline recommendations from the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium. Annals of internal medicine. 2019 Nov 19;171(10):756-64.

Lenighan YM, Nugent AP, Li KF, Brennan L, Walton J, Flynn A, Roche HM, McNulty BA. Processed red meat contribution to dietary patterns and the associated cardio-metabolic outcomes. British Journal of Nutrition. 2017 Aug;118(3):222-8.

Mann NJ. A brief history of meat in the human diet and current health implications. Meat science. 2018 Oct 1;144:169-79.

Mazzai A, Eltzov E, Manzano M, Marks RS. Probing putative carcinogenic potential of processed and unprocessed meat using bioluminescent bacterial bioreporters. Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical. 2017 Feb 1;239:113-9.

Olgun O, Yildiz AO, Şahin A. Evaluation of dietary presence or use of cadmium in poultry. World's Poultry Science Journal. 2020 Jan 2;76(1):64-73.

Wolk A. Potential health hazards of eating red meat. Journal of Internal Medicine. 2017 Feb;281(2):106-22.

Wyness L. The role of red meat in the diet: nutrition and health benefits. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2016 Aug;75(3):227-32.

Yang C, Pan L, Sun C, Xi Y, Wang L, Li D. Red meat consumption and the risk of stroke: a dose–response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases. 2016 May 1;25(5):1177-86.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Food Nutrition Assignment Help

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