So It’s the Kind of Protein in Red Meat, not the Saturated Fat that Kills us?

steakI have been thinking about reintroducing red meat into my diet after a decade or so of avoiding the stuff. In the ongoing saga that is my diet, I feel like I’ve finally settled into some themes about how to eat healthy — I call how I eat a modified Mediterranean diet but it has also been called Pegan. Basically, I’m all in on eliminating all processed carbs like bread as well as all added sugars while increasing my intake of healthy fats from sources like avocado and nuts/seeds. As for meat, I’ve been sticking with fish, chicken and turkey. We have the meats!

The more I eat this way, the better I feel and the better my blood test results. My triglycerides are very low (under 100 at last check) and my LDL cholesterol is well below the 70 mark recommended for heart disease patients. The “experts” I’ve been following such as Dr. Mark HymanDr. Stephen Sinatra, and Gary Taubes to name a few all suggest sugar, not fat, is the demon that causes heart disease and frankly the data is compelling. The common theme among these low carb/high fat evangelists is that red meat (and the saturated fat that comes with it) is fine.

There are good scientific and health-minded reasons to eat high-quality, organic, grass-fed, sustainably raised meat as part of an overall healthy diet. — Dr. Mark Hyman

Yes, everyone agrees plants are better for you and that they should make up the largest part of your diet, but if saturated fat isn’t bad then grass-fed red meat should be back on the plate in modest portions.

Not so fast.

new study found that eating meat regularly is associated with a 60 percent increase in the risk of heart disease, while plant-based proteins have been found to benefit the organ.

But the study doesn’t point to saturated fat as the culprit, rather it suggests there’s something troubling about the protein in meat versus the protein in plants, nuts and seeds.

“Our results suggest that healthy choices can be advocated based on protein sources, specifically preferring diets low in meat intake and with a higher intake of plant proteins from nuts and seeds,” the authors said.

This research doesn’t vindicate the anti-meat people because the argument against meat has long been about saturated fat. If true, and protein is the issue, then they have been right all along but not for the reasons they believe.

The saturated fat debate is far from over. Both sides make compelling arguments based on real research. Personally, I’m not willing to risk it by introducing saturated fat to my diet when I haven’t been eating it for years. No butter, no red meat, no coconut oil.

But I was, as I mentioned above, considering adding back in a little grass-fed beef to mix things up. Hey, I haven’t had a good burger since the George W. Bush administration.

Thanks for nothing Loma Linda University School of Public Health, AgroParisTech, and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique!

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