Omnivores, rejoice: It’s OK to eat moderate amounts of lean red meat when following an overall healthy diet, according to a recent study. Conducted by researchers at Purdue University and the University of Texas, the study examined how eating red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb, affected heart health if the person is otherwise following a Mediterranean diet.
Inspired by the eating habits of the Mediterranean region, the diet emphasizes eating mostly plant-based foods, using olive oil instead of canola oil, and using herbs and spices instead of salt in cooking. Nutritionists usually say to limit red meat intake because it can negatively affect health.
The study focused on obese or overweight adults who were not already following Mediterranean diets. The researchers put the participants on a Mediterranean diet for five weeks, with some getting 200 grams of red meat per day and others 500 grams. They then ate a self-selected diet for four weeks before returning to a Mediterranean diet for five weeks. Those who previously had 200 grams of meat then got 500 grams, and the others got the lesser amount.
The researchers found the amount of red meat consumed did not negatively affect heart health when the participants followed the Mediterranean diet. In results published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, some participants showed improved blood pressure and lowered their cholesterol levels.
The researchers emphasize that the study’s results do not promote eating a lot of red meat, but it is OK to enjoy a lean burger, steak or piece of ham when mostly following a diet full of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. As always, moderation is key.