Red meat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Thinly sliced raw beef

In gastronomy, red meat is commonly red when raw and a dark color after it is cooked, in contrast to white meat, which is pale in color before and after cooking.[1][2]

In culinary terms, only flesh from mammals or fowl (not fish) is classified as red or white.[3][4] In nutritional science, on the other hand, red meat is defined as any meat that has more of the protein myoglobin than "white meat", defined as non-dark meat from chicken (excluding the leg or thigh) or fish. Some meat, such as pork, is classified as red meat under the nutritional definition, and white meat under the common or gastronomic definition.


Concentration of myoglobin by percentage of mass
Name Myoglobin USDA Category
Chicken Breast 0.005%[5] White Meat [6]
Chicken Thigh 0.18 - 0.20%[5] Dark Meat
Turkey Thigh 0.25 - 0.30%[5] Dark Meat
Pork 0.10 - 0.30%[5] Red Meat[6]
Veal 0.10 - 0.30%[5] Red Meat[6]
Beef 0.40 - 1.00%[5] Red Meat[6]
Old beef 1.50 - 2.00%[5] Red Meat[6]

According to the USDA, all meats obtained from mammals (regardless of cut or age) are red meats because they contain more myoglobin than fish or white meat (but not necessarily dark meat)[5] from chicken.[6]

Duck, with potatoes, showing the red color of the meat

Under the culinary definition, the meat from adult or 'gamey' mammals (for example, beef, horse meat, mutton, venison, boar, hare) is red meat, while that from young mammals (rabbit, veal, lamb) is white. Most poultry is white, but duck and goose are red. Most cuts of pork are red, others are white.[7] Game is sometimes put in a separate category altogether. (French: viandes noires — "dark meats".)[4] Some meats (lamb, pork) are classified differently by different writers.

Some cuts of pork are considered white under the culinary definition, but all pork is red in nutritional studies. The National Pork Board has positioned it as "Pork. The Other White Meat", profiting from the ambiguity to suggest that pork has the nutritional properties of white meat, which is considered more healthful.[8][9]


Red meat contains large amounts of iron, creatine, minerals such as zinc and phosphorus, and B-vitamins: (niacin, vitamin B12, thiamin and riboflavin).[10] Red meat is a source of lipoic acid.

Red meat contains small amounts of vitamin D.[11] The liver contains much higher quantities than other parts of the animal.

In 2011, the USDA launched MyPlate, which didn't distinguish between kinds of meat, but did recommend eating at least 8 oz (227 grams) of fish each week.[12][13] In 2011, the Harvard School of Public Health launched the Healthy Eating Plate in part because of the perceived inadequacies of the USDA's recommendations.[12] The Healthy Eating Plate encourages consumers to avoid processed meat and limit red meat consumption to twice a week because of links to heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. To replace these meats it recommends consuming fish, poultry, beans or nuts.[12]

Human health[edit]

Red meat is not a uniform product; its health effects can vary based on fat content, processing and preparation. Processed red meat is linked to higher mortality, mainly due to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.[14] There is some evidence that the consumption of unprocessed red meat may have negative health effects in humans.[15]


Cancer is the main long-term toxic response of consuming meat and meat byproducts.[16]

Health concerns have been raised about the consumption of meat increasing the risk of cancer.[17] In particular, red meat and processed meat were found to be associated with higher risk of cancers of the lung, esophagus, liver, and colon, among others — although also a reduced risk for some minor type of cancers.[17]

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). IARC classified processed meat (e.g., bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausages) as, "carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer." IARC also classified red meat as "probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect."[18][19][20] Subsequent studies have shown that taxing processed meat products could save lives, particularly in the West where meat intensive diets are the norm. If the amount of taxation was linked to the level of harm they caused, some processed meats, such as bacon and sausages, would nearly double in price.[21]

Another study found an increase risk of pancreatic cancer for red meat and pork. That study noted that, "findings suggest that intakes of red meat and processed meat are positively associated with pancreatic cancer risk and thus are potential target factors for disease prevention. [...] Future analyses of meat and pancreatic cancer risk should focus on meat preparation methods and related carcinogens."[22]

That study also suggests that fat and saturated fat are not likely contributors to pancreatic cancer. Animal fat, particularly from ruminants, tends to have a higher percentage of saturated fat vs. monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat when compared to vegetable fats, with the exception of some tropical plant fats;[23] consumption of which has been correlated with various health problems. The saturated fat found in meat has been associated with significantly raised risks of colon cancer,[24][25] although evidence suggests that risks of prostate cancer are unrelated to animal fat consumption.[26]

Other research does not support significant links between meat consumption and various cancers. Key et al. found that "There were no significant differences between vegetarians and nonvegetarians in mortality from cerebrovascular disease, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer or all other causes combined."[27] Truswell reviewed numerous studies, concluding that the relationship of colorectal cancer with meat consumption appeared weaker than the "probable" status it had been given by the World Cancer Research Foundation in 1997.[28] A study by Chao et al. (2005) found an apparent association of colorectal cancer with red meat consumption after adjustment for age and energy intake. However, after further adjustment for body mass index, cigarette smoking and other covariates, no association with red meat consumption was found.[29] Alex' ander conducted a meta-analysis which found no association of colorectal cancer with consumption of animal fat or protein.[30] Based on European data (EPIC-Oxford study), Key et al. found that incidence of colorectal cancer was somewhat lower among meat eaters than among vegetarians. However, they concluded that 'the study is not large enough to exclude small or moderate differences for specific causes of death, and more research on this topic is required'.[31] A study within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) found that association between esophageal cancer risk and total and processed meat intake was not statistically significant.[32]


Red meat[edit]

The consensus on the role of red meat consumption to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases has changed in recent years. Studies that differentiate between processed and fresh red meat have failed to find a link between unprocessed red meat consumption and heart disease. A meta-analysis published in 2010 involving around one million people who ate meat found that only processed meat had an adverse risk in relation to coronary heart disease (CHD).[33]< The review suggested that the "differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats."[33] Some mechanisms that have been suggested for why red meat consumption might be risk factor for cardiovascular disease include: its impact on serum cholesterol,[34] that red meat contains arachidonic acid,[35] heme iron,[36] homocysteine,[37] and its high saturated fat content.

Several studies have found a correlation between unprocessed red meat and the occurrence of CHD and certain types of stroke and have controlled for various confounding risk factors.[38] A study of 84,000 women, over a period of 26 years, finds that those with the highest intake of unprocessed red meat, have a 13% increased risk of CHD.[38] Likewise a Harvard study published in 2012, studying mortality as a result of processed and unprocessed red meat consumption finds that one serving of either type of meat a day results in an increased risk of mortality of 13%,[39] while this ratio is indicative of cancer and cardiovascular (CVD) disease, the study indicates that of the 23,926 deaths[39] investigated during the course of the study, 5910 of them were related to CVD[39] and there was no statistical significance between the risk of unprocessed and processed red meats factors in the occurrence of CVD.[39] The disparity between metadata studies definitely need to be addressed, because while one points toward unprocessed red meat being insignificant in certain health risks, there are still correlations to be found in focused large cohort studies.[39][38]

Unprocessed red meat intake is tentatively associated with an increased risk of type II diabetes, but the link is weaker and less certain than the link between processed red meat and diabetes.[40] Other findings have suggested that the association may be due to saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol, rather than red meat per se.[41] One study estimated that “substitutions of one serving of nuts, low-fat dairy, and whole grains per day for one serving of red meat per day were associated with a 16–35% lower risk of type 2 diabetes”.[42]

A 2012 meta-analysis found an increased risk of gastric cancer with higher consumption of red or processed meat.[43] Red meat itself contains certain factors that, under certain conditions, produce carcinogens like N-nitroso compounds (NOCs).[44]

In 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that red meat is probably (Group 2A) carcinogenic to humans,[45] and reported that for each additional 100g (up to a maximum of approximately 140g)[46] of red meat consumed per day, the risk of colorectal cancer increased by 17%; there also appeared to be increased risk of pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer but the association was not as clear.[47] Put in perspective, in the UK, 56 out of 1000 people who eat the lowest amount of red meat will develop colorectal cancer (5.6%) while 66 out of 1000 high-red meat eaters will develop colorectal cancer (6.6%) (1.17 x 5.6 = 6.6).[48]

A 2016 literature review reported that for 100g or more per day of red meat consumed, the risk increased 11% for each of stroke and for breast cancer, 15% for cardiovascular mortality, 17% for colorectal cancer, and 19% for advanced prostate cancer.[49]

Processed meat[edit]

Most processed meat contains at least some red meat.[45] To enhance flavor or improve preservation meat is treated by salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to create processed meat.[45] Nitrates and nitrites found in processed meat (e.g. bacon, ham, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, and some sausages) can be converted by the human body into nitrosamines that can be carcinogenic, causing mutation in the colorectal cell line, thereby causing tumorigenesis and eventually leading to cancer.[50] In its Press Release 240 (16 Oct. 2015) the International Agency for Research on Cancer, based on a review of 800 studies over 20 years, concluded that processed meat is definitely carcinogenic (Group 1) and found that for each additional 50g of processed meat consumed per day, the risk of colorectal cancer increased by 18% (up to a maximum of approximately 140g);[46] it also found that there appeared to be an increase in gastric cancer but this was not as clear.[47]

A 2016 literature review found that for the each additional 50g per day of processed meat (e.g., bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausages) consumed, the risk increased 4% for total prostate cancer, 8% for cancer mortality, 9% for breast cancer, 18% for colorectal cancer, 19% for pancreatic cancer, 13% for stroke, 24% for cardiovascular mortality and 32% for diabetes.[49]


Meat with a dark surface common to cooking at high temperature

Cooking any meat at a high temperature or smoking meat produces carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs).[51] The subgroups of heterocyclic amines compounds are amino-dimethylimidazo-quinoxaline (MelQx), amino-dimethylimidazo-quinoxaline (DiMelQx), and amino-methyl-phenylimidazo-pyridine (PhIP), which are mostly formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) is another compound found in meat cooked at extremely high temperatures. Likely because of these factors, marinating fresh lean red meat, and thoroughly cooking it at a low temperature will reduce the production of carcinogenic compounds and thereby lower the risk of colorectal cancer.[52][53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Red Meat".
  2. ^ "White Meat".
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-30. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  4. ^ a b Larousse Gastronomique, first edition
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Iowa State Animal Science". Archived from the original on 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "USDA-Safety of Fresh Pork...from Farm to Table". 2008-05-16. Archived from the original on 2013-09-18. Retrieved 2009-09-16.
  7. ^ Larousse Gastronomique, 1961, s.v. pork
  8. ^ Dougherty, Philip H. "ADVERTISING; Dressing Pork for Success" Archived 2017-02-14 at the Wayback Machine., The New York Times, January 15, 1987. Accessed April 22, 2009.
  9. ^ Hall, Trish. "And This Little Piggy Is Now on the Menu" Archived 2017-02-14 at the Wayback Machine., The New York Times, November 13, 1991. Accessed April 22, 2009.
  10. ^ Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, Red Meats: Nutrient Contributions to the Diet, September 20 BC, [1] Archived September 12, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Nutritional composition of red meat Archived 2011-03-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ a b c Harvard School of Public Health, 2012. Food Pyramids: What Should You Really Eat Archived 2009-04-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ USDA MyPlate Protein foods Archived 2013-01-16 at the Wayback Machine. Page accessed February 27, 2015
  14. ^ Sabine Rohrmann; Kim Overvad; European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition; et al. (7 March 2013). "Meat consumption and mortality – results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition". BMC Medicine. 11 (1): 63. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-63. PMC 3599112. PMID 23497300. Archived from the original on 9 March 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2013. The results of our analysis support a moderate positive association between processed meat consumption and mortality, in particular due to cardiovascular diseases, but also to cancer.
  15. ^ Larsson SC, Orsini N (February 2014). "Red meat and processed meat consumption and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis". Am. J. Epidemiol. (Meta-analysis). 179 (3): 282–9. doi:10.1093/aje/kwt261. PMID 24148709.
  16. ^ Püssa, Tõnu (December 1, 2013). "Toxicological issues associated with production and processing of meat". Meat Science. 95 (4): 844–853. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.04.032. ISSN 1873-4138. PMID 23660174.
  17. ^ a b Cross, Amanda; Leitzmann, MF; Gail, MH; Hollenbeck, AR; Schatzkin, A; Sinha, R (2007). "A Prospective Study of Red and Processed Meat Intake in Relation to Cancer Risk". PLoS Medicine. the Public Library of Science. 4 (12): e325. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040325. PMC 2121107. PMID 18076279.
  18. ^ Staff. "World Health Organization - IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat" (PDF). International Agency for Research on Cancer. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  19. ^ Hauser, Christine (October 26, 2015). "W.H.O. Report Links Some Cancers With Processed or Red Meat". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  20. ^ Staff (October 26, 2015). "Processed meats do cause cancer - WHO". BBC News. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  21. ^ Carrington, Damian (November 6, 2018). "Taxing red meat would save many lives, research shows". The Guardian. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  22. ^ Nothlings, U.; Wilkens, L. R.; Murphy, S. P.; Hankin, J. H.; Henderson, B. E.; Kolonel, L. N. (2005). "Meat and Fat Intake as Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer: The Multiethnic Cohort Study – Nöthlings et al. 97 (19): 1458 – JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute". JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 97 (19): 1458–1465. doi:10.1093/jnci/dji292. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  23. ^ "Nutrients, Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Information". Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  24. ^ "What You Eat May Influence Colon Cancer Relapse". American Cancer Society. August 21, 2007. Archived from the original on April 19, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
  25. ^ Taylor, E F; Burley, V J; Greenwood, D C; Cade, J E (2007). "Meat consumption and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women's Cohort Study". British Journal of Cancer. 96 (7): 1139–46. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603689. PMC 2360120. PMID 17406351. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  26. ^ Park, S. Y.; Murphy, S. P.; Wilkens, L. R.; Henderson, B. E.; Kolonel, L. N. (2007). "Fat and meat intake and prostate cancer risk: The multiethnic cohort study". International Journal of Cancer. 121 (6): 1339–1345. doi:10.1002/ijc.22805. PMID 17487838.
  27. ^ Key, T. J., G. E. Fraser, M. Thorogood, P. N. Appleby, V. Beral, G. Reeves, M. L. Burr, J. Chang-Claude, R. Frentzel-Beyme, J. W. Kuzma, J. Mann and K. McPherson. 1999. Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 70 (suppl.): 516S-524S
  28. ^ Truswell, A. S. 2002. Meat consumption and cancer of the large bowel. E. J. Clin. Nutr. 56: S19-S24.
  29. ^ Chao, A., M. J. Thun, C. J. Connell, M. L. McCullough, E. J. Jacobs, W. D. Flanders, C. Rodriguez, R. Sinha and E. E. Calle. 2005. Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 293: 172-182
  30. ^ Alexander, D. D.; Cushing, C. A.; Lowe, K. A.; Sceurman, B.; Roberts, M. A. (2009). "Meta-analysis of animal fat or animal protein intake and colorectal cancer". Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 89: 1402–1409. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26838.
  31. ^ Key, T. J., P. N. Appleby, E. A. Spencer, R. C. Travis, A. W. Roddam and N. E. Allen. 2009. Cancer incidence in vegetarians: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford). Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 89 (suppl.): 1620S-1626S
  32. ^ Gonzalez, C. A. et al. 2006. Meat Intake and Risk of Stomach and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Within the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). J. National Cancer Inst. 98: 345-354
  33. ^ a b Micha, R.; Wallace, S. K.; Mozaffarian, D. (1 June 2010). "Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis". Circulation. 121 (21): 2271–2283. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.924977. PMC 2885952. PMID 20479151. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  34. ^ Gotto, AM; LaRosa, JC; Hunninghake, D; Grundy, SM; Wilson, PW; Clarkson, TB; et al. (1990). "The cholesterol facts. A summary relating dietary fats, serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease" (PDF). Circulation. 81: 1721–1733. doi:10.1161/01.cir.81.5.1721. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-10-25.
  35. ^ Leaf, A; Weber, PC (1988). "Cardiovascular effects of n-3 fatty acids". N Engl J Med. 318: 549–557. doi:10.1056/nejm198803033180905.
  36. ^ Malaviarachchi, D; Veugelers, PJ; Yip, AM; MacLean, DR (2002). "Dietary iron as a risk factor for myocardial infarction. Public health considerations for Nova Scotia". Can J Public Health. 93: 267–270.
  37. ^ Verhoef, P; Stampfer, MJ; Buring, JE; Gaziano, JM; Allen, RH; Stabler, SP; et al. (1996). "Homocysteine metabolism and risk of myocardial infarction: relation with vitamins B6 and B12 and folate". Am J Epidemiol. 143: 845–859. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a008828.
  38. ^ a b c TH, Leung (2012). "Red Meat Consumption: The Good and the Bad" (PDF). Non-Communicable Diseases Watch. 5: 1–7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-12-30.
  39. ^ a b c d e Pan, An (12 March 2012). "Red Meat Consumption and Mortality: Results from Two Prospective Cohort Studies". Archives of Internal Medicine. 172: 555–63. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287. PMC 3712342. PMID 22412075.
  40. ^ Micha, Renata; Michas, Georgios; Mozaffarian, Dariush (22 September 2012). "Unprocessed Red and Processed Meats and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes – An Updated Review of the Evidence". Current Atherosclerosis Reports. 14 (6): 515–524. doi:10.1007/s11883-012-0282-8. PMC 3483430. PMID 23001745.
  41. ^ Hu, F. B.; Van Dam, S.; Liu, R. M. (2001). "Diet and risk of Type II diabetes: the role of types of fat and carbohydrate". Diabetologia. 44 (7): 805–817. doi:10.1007/s001250100547. PMID 11508264.
  42. ^ Pan, A.; Sun, Q.; Bernstein, A. M.; Schulze, M. B.; Manson, J. E.; Willett, W. C.; Hu, F. B. (2011). "Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 94 (4): 1088–1096. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.018978. PMC 3173026. PMID 21831992.
  43. ^ Zhu, H; et al. (2013). "Red and processed meat intake is associated with higher gastric cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological observational studies". PLOS ONE. 8 (8): e70955. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070955. PMC 3743884. PMID 23967140.
  44. ^ "Inherited Bowel Cancer". Archived from the original on 2014-12-25.
  45. ^ a b c International Agency for Research on Cancer (26 October 2015), IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat (PDF) (Press Release N° 240), archived (PDF) from the original on 10 November 2015
  46. ^ a b Chan, DS; Lau, R; Aune, D; Vieira, R; Greenwood, DC; Kampman, E; Norat, T (2011-06-06). "Red and processed meat and colorectal cancer incidence: meta-analysis of prospective studies". PLOS ONE. 6 (6): e20456. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020456. PMC 3108955. PMID 21674008. In non-linear models, colorectal cancer risk appears to increase almost linearly with increasing intake of red and processed meats up to approximately 140 g/day. Above this level, the risk increase is less pronounced..
  47. ^ a b Bouvard, V, et al, and; International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group. (December 2015). "Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat". The Lancet. Oncology. 16 (16): 1599–600. doi:10.1016/s1470-2045(15)00444-1. PMID 26514947.
  48. ^ "Processed meat and cancer – what you need to know". Cancer Research UK - Science blog. Archived from the original on 2017-01-09. Retrieved 2016-12-29.
  49. ^ a b Wolk, A (6 September 2016). "Potential health hazards of eating red meat". Journal of Internal Medicine. doi:10.1111/joim.12543. PMID 27597529. Archived from the original on 8 November 2016.
  50. ^ Raphaëlle, Santarelli (2008). "Processed Meat and Colorectal Cancer: A Review of Epidemiologic and Experimental Evidence". Nutrition and Cancer. 60: 131–144. doi:10.1080/01635580701684872. Archived from the original on 2014-06-24.
  51. ^ "Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk". National Cancer Institute. Archived from the original on 2011-11-06.
  52. ^ "Marinades Reduce Heterocyclic Amines from Primitive Food Preparation Techniques". Schor J. Archived from the original on 2014-12-25.
  53. ^ "Seer Stat Fact Sheets: Colon and Rectum Cancer". National Cancer Institute. Archived from the original on 2014-06-24.

External links[edit]