There’s a slew of misinformation out there about meat. In fact, we’re living in a nutrition information overload. What are the myths? What are the truths? It’s hard to separate the chaff from the grain and to decide which information to keep, and which to toss.
MYTH: Eating meat causes cancer
TRUTH: When it comes to the conversation about meat and cancer, it is crucial to differentiate between processed and unprocessed meats. Processed meats include deli meats, hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausages, etc. In short, anything that isn’t a true cut from the animal itself.
These processed meats contain ingredients that have been linked to cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, processed meats and unprocessed meats are not the same things. Similarly, there’s little evidence that eating unprocessed meat increases your risk for cancer.
While it’s true that long and harsh cooking methods can pose a health threat, it’s possible to enjoy meat if you avoid eating burned and charred meat, and instead opt for gentler cooking methods, including soups, stews and shorter cooking times.
MYTH: Meat rots in your colon
TRUTH: People who adhere to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle may tell you that humans are not designed to eat red meat and that it will actually sit in the colon, and rot.
However, there is no scientific basis for this belief. The truth is, stomach acids and enzymes break down the meat before it moves into the small intestine. There, the meat is broken down even further, and proteins are divided up into amino acids, and far into fatty acids.
From there, these acids move to the bloodstream, which carries these nutrients throughout the body.
If you want to know what really rots in your colon, it’s plants. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the fermentation (rotting) process helps to create good bacteria. This, in turn, helps to keep the overall health of the microbiome balanced, according to research.
MYTH: Chicken meat is healthier than red meat
TRUTH: Chicken meat may be a low-fat food – compared to red meat. However, if it’s a conventionally grown chicken, it’s not necessarily better for you. That’s because chickens are fed a high-grain diet and a diet that’s full of herbicides, pesticides and ultimately, nothing either the chicken or you should be eating.
On top of this, most farm-raised chickens are pumped full of grown hormones to fatten them up more quickly. Additionally, crowded conditions make these animals sickly. This, in turn, leads to antibiotics and other drugs. But believe it or not, you eat these substances, too.
So, all that’s to say: conventionally grown chicken meat isn’t healthier than red meat. The only time chicken meat is better for you than red meat is when the red meat comes from farm-raised animals, who live in filthy, crowded conditions and eat a poor diet.
But in order for chicken to be an improvement over this type of meat, the chicken must be organic, eat an appropriate diet, receive little to no antibiotics, and be raised in humane conditions.
MYTH: Red meat causes heart disease
TRUTH: People have been eating meat for millions of years without the widespread epidemic of heart disease and diabetes which is now rampant in modern, Western societies.
However, others argue that heart disease and other chronic illnesses are caused by inflammation throughout the body, which can be traced to other dietary sources, including processed sugar, grains, and trans fats – all of which are inflammatory and new to the human diet.
MYTH: Red meat increase risk for diabetes
TRUTH: In a study that observed over one million people, researchers found that there is no link between eating unprocessed red meat and type 2 diabetes. However, it’s important to bear in mind that this research involved unprocessed meat, rather than processed varieties, such as deli meat, hot dogs, etc.
MYTH: Meat makes you fat
TRUTH: Yes, meat does contain saturated fat. And it’s true that when you consume more calories than your body spends, you can store that energy as fat.
However, many of us mistakenly believe that dietary fat leads to body fat. And this is not necessarily the case with animal fat, including those found in meat.
Instead, dietary sugars, when not used for energy, get stored in the body as fat. And this may be the real culprit for the rise in unhealthy weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
What’s more, since meat is a good source of animal protein, it can actually decrease your overall calorie intake throughout the day, making it easier for you to lose weight, or at least, to maintain a healthy body weight.
MYTH: Eating meat makes you calcium deficient
TRUTH: Many individuals believe that eating protein sources can increase blood acid levels and draw calcium out of the bones. And while this can happen in short-term scenarios, this is not the case in long-term situations.
In fact, a diet that includes animal protein has actually been linked to a lower risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.
MYTH: Chicken breast is better than the other parts of the chicken
TRUTH: Yes, it’s true that chicken breast (when it’s boneless and skinless) is lower in fat than the darker cuts of meat. However, dark meat is rich in iron and zinc, compared to chicken breast. Plus, it packs a lot more flavor, too.
Therefore, don’t miss out on these other bits. Sure, they may be higher in calories, but you’re also getting many more key nutrients, too.
There is a lot of information and misinformation about food out there. And when it comes to meat, it’s downright overwhelming. Hopefully, this myth-busting article has cleared up some of your own confusion surrounding meat.