By now, it should be an old story. The government’s nutritional advice about avoiding dietary cholesterol and saturated fats was all wrong, all along. That means its recommendations to stop eating dairy, eggs, meat, and shellfish were not only dead wrong, but they have actually created a dietary, nutritional, and disease disaster.
But the diehards just…die hard. Last September, I reported on a ridiculous study from Harvard that grasped at thin straws, trying to trump up any possible, slim evidence linking meat to heart disease (See the Daily Dispatch “Case against meat loses more muscle.”) These researchers remain in denial, while the country really needs them to move on to the other stages of grief over the failure of their theories about heart disease.
Fortunately, other scientists have indeed moved on. A new research review from Purdue University reveals that consuming red meat in amounts greater than what is typically recommended does not affect heart health…nor risk factors like high blood pressure.1
24 studies show that eating meat doesn’t raise blood pressure or cholesterol
The Purdue research begins by pointing out the inconsistency of reported observations between red meat intake and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The researchers also state that comprehensive analyses of randomized, controlled clinical trials that investigate the effects of meat consumption on CVD have been very limited.
Amazingly, this means that 40 years of failed dietary recommendations about meat were based on inadequate studies and no real scientific evidence at all.
Instead, these recommendations are faith-based, built on a house of cards, especially when it comes to the older adults who need cardiovascular care the most.
The new study had an ambitious goal—to research all prior studies to determine whether eating various amounts of red meat per day affected CVD risk factors.
The researchers reviewed hundreds of studies on red meat consumption and CVD risk. But they found only 24 that were designed properly and performed well enough to be able to really determine the connection.
Subjects in those studies were age 20 or older, ate either more or less than half a serving of meat a day, and were screened for CVD risk factors.
Results showed that red meat intake did not affect the study participant’s blood pressure; total cholesterol; or HDL, LDL, or triglyceride levels—which are commonly measured indicators of heart disease. (Of course, cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease, although blood pressure and triglycerides are important risk factors).
And these findings were consistent no matter how much, or little, meat the study participants ate.
In other words, eating more than a half-serving of red meat per day did not influence risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Conversely, there was no benefit to cutting back meat consumption to below a half-serving per day.
What can meat do for you?
What the study did not look at are the possible nutrient deficiencies and health risks from not eating enough meat.
Meat is the richest source of bioavailable minerals (like calcium, iron, magnesium, and selenium), as well as vitamins A, B, D, and E.
Mainly because of the anti-meat propaganda, there are epidemic dietary deficiencies in the U.S. of calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin D—which in all likelihood contributes to the epidemics of diet-related chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
And, of course, meat is an excellent source of protein. This is key because, as I’ve reported before, studies show that older men need twice as much protein as the government’s daily recommended allowance in order to maintain muscle mass.
What you really need to give up to keep your heart healthy
By following the government’s half-cocked advice to cut dairy, eggs, meat, and shellfish from their diets, Americans were left with little else. Basically, the government has created diets that rely on more and more carbs.
Ultimately, by following this advice, you would end up like the “Man in the Iron Mask,” or the “Prisoner of Zenda,” on a bread-and-water diet. But what was your offense?
And, of course, carb-heavy diets lead to important risk factors for heart disease, including high blood sugar and chronic inflammation. Focusing efforts on reducing and eliminating these real culprits behind cardiometabolic disease would go much further in improving heart health in the general population.
But billions of dollars of prior research has not concentrated on that goal. Instead, it has focused on blood pressure (correctly) and cholesterol (unaccountably). So we have plenty of data on those factors, but lack data on real CVD risk factors that are not routinely considered by researchers or measured by doctors (for example, chronic inflammation, homocysteine, and B vitamin levels).
This deficiency makes the vast majority of the research useless for providing real cardiovascular care to anyone. Do you see a pattern emerging?
When your doctor doesn’t even (a) measure all the right factors and (b) doesn’t have the right treatments for (c) your correct age group, you don’t have much choice in the matter.
That’s why you can forget most of your cardiologist’s favorite risk factors for CVD, and dangerous statin drugs, and rely more on a natural approach to heart health.
This includes taking a high-quality vitamin B complex every day, 250 mg of vitamin C twice per day, 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily, and 400 mg of magnesium a day.
And, of course, tell your cardiologist and other doctors to get off the anti-meat bandwagon.
There is an old saying: “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” I suggest you tell your cardiologist you will take the meat…but to lay off the poisonous prescriptions when it comes to preventing heart disease.
1“Total red meat intake of ≥0.5 servings/d does not negatively influence cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systematically searched meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Nov 23.