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Recent publicity over “pink slime” has revived an old debate: is red meat bad for you? Although most research finds that “Yes” it really is bad, one recent study suggests that red meat may actually offer an important health benefit.   Read more


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Pick Your Poison: Pink Slime or Bacon?

Read down, past the sensational headlines, and just about every newspaper article reaches the same conclusion: “pink slime” sounds a lot worse than it is.

 

Pink slime is just ground up beef scraps, nothing more terrible than red meat remnants that have been exposed to a puff of ammonia gas to kill bacteria. When the mixture is added to lean ground beef, it stretches out the hamburger and (presumabley) makes it cheaper for you to buy.

 

Still, for nutrition buffs, this is a time to grab the microphone.

All the recent media hoopla offers them a great opportunity to once again proclaim the dangers of red meat.  And, let’s face it: they have some impressive facts to work with.

  • Red meat consumption is at an all-time high in this country. The average
    American eats more than 113 pounds of it every year (compared to 66 pounds
    of poultry and 15 pounds of seafood). 
  • Reputable studies show that the saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat
    increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Research also finds that the specific kind of iron in red meat is associated
    with heart attacks and fatal heart disease
  • And red meat correlates with higher rates of obesity, diabetes, arthritis, and
    colorectal as well as other forms of cancers.

If that’s not enough, more alarming news recently surfaced.

Just last month, researchers at Harvard analyzed data from two independent studies. Together, they followed 37,698 men and 83,644 women for as long as 28 years. The results were shocking: increased consumption of red and processed meats (anything smoked, cured, or preserved with chemical additives) was associated with increased risk of death.

 

Even one daily serving makes an ugly difference.

The Harvard team found that a daily serving of unprocessed red meat increased mortality risk by 13 percent. And a comparable amount of processed meat per day elevated risk by 20 percent. Meanwhile substitutions for red meat actually decreased total mortality risk—by 19 percent for nuts; 14 percent for poultry & whole grains; and 10 percent for legume & low-fat dairy products.

 

The good news is that you can lower your risks.

The researchers estimate that more than 9 percent of total deaths in men and 7 percent in women are preventable if individuals would consume less than half a daily serving of red meat—that translates to 1.5 oz, or a piece about the size of half a deck of cards.

 

 

Pink Slime is Not the Only Ammonia-Treated Fun Food

And before you eliminate red meat altogether…

Consider a recent study out of Deakin University in Victoria, Australia. It found that women who reduced their lamb and beef consumption were more likely to suffer from depression. Principal investigator Felice Jacka, PhD, explains that there was no relationship between mental health and other forms of protein (i.e., chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins). “Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women’s diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between red meat intake and mental health remained.”

 

SO WHAT’S THE TAKEAWAY?

No matter which side of the fence you choose to stand on when it comes to the safety of eating red meat, there’s at least some credible research to back you up. Nonetheless, the science does highly favor a diet free of red meat.

 

 

 

 

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