How to Make Your Meat as Healthy as Possible

Denise Minger is a former vegan and very popular blogger. She is well known for her thorough debunking of the china study (the holy bible of veganism).

The video above is her presentation at the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium, Meet Your Meat: An Objective Look at a Controversial Food.

As she says, there may be a few concerns about a high meat consumption… but they can easily be rectified with a few simple adjustments.

Eating Only Muscle Meats Can Create an Imbalance

Woman Eating Meat

Throughout evolution, humans didn’t just eat muscle meats. Back in the day, we used to treasure the organs.

Hunter-gatherers ate “nose-to-tail” – muscles, organs and other tissues. Organs like liver tend to have a lot more micronutrients than muscle.

Muscle meat also tends to be very high in the amino acid methionine. There is some evidence that eating less methionine has health benefits in rats (1, 2).

I’m not really sure if this is relevant to humans on a lower-carb, higher-fat, moderate-protein diet though.

Dangers of High-Heat Cooking

Bacon

There are some dangers when cooking meat at a very high heat.

This can form unhealthy compounds called Heterocyclic Amines (HAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).

This happens when some of the nutrients in meat react to form these unhealthy compounds at very high temperatures (3).

These compounds have been linked to cancer in animals but hasn’t been proven in humans.

I do think these concerns are legit. Foods damage at very high temperatures and this applies to other foods as well, not just meat.

How to avoid/minimize HAs and PAHs:

  • Use gentler cooking methods like stewing and steaming.
  • Limit charred and smoked food. If your meat is burned, cut away the charred pieces.
  • Don’t expose meat directly to a flame and minimize cooking above 150°C / 300°F.
  • Marinating meat in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic or red wine can reduce HCAs by up to 90%.
  • When cooking at a very high heat, flip the meat frequently.

Red Meat is Very High in Iron

Meat

Having very high iron levels in the body can cause problems over the long term.

Humans (except menstruating females) don’t have any efficient mechanism to expel iron from the body.

For most people, this does not matter.

However, having a genetic disorder called Hereditary Hemochromatosis can result in elevated absorption of iron, which in some cases can increase total iron levels in the body (4).

For people who have this disorder, eating a lot of iron-rich foods can cause problems… and red meat is very rich in iron.

If you have this problem then there are a few things you can do:

  • Donate blood.
  • Drink coffee or tea with meals that have a lot of iron in them.
  • Avoid Vitamin C rich foods when you’re eating foods with a lot of iron (Vit C increases iron absorption).
  • Eat less red meat.

The only way to know if this is relevant to you is to see a doctor to get tested for blood iron levels, or to get tested for the genetic mutation itself.

I personally have not gotten tested, but I do donate blood from time to time… which is a good idea for other reasons as well, such as saving lives.

Take Home Message

Meat, especially if it is naturally fed, is a healthy food.

But as with most things in nutrition, there are some potential concerns… which can easily be accounted for with some minor adjustments.

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