Protein is one of the essential building blocks of the human body. Found in muscle, bone, hair, skin, and throughout the organs and tissues, protein-based enzymes are responsible for fueling many of the crucial chemical processes that the body relies on daily. There are at least 10,000 distinct types of proteins that are active in keeping the human machine running, making it vital that the body replenish its stores through a protein rich diet.
Considering Food’s Complete Protein Package
However, recent research suggests that the amount of protein in your diet may be much less important than the quality of the total protein package that your meals contain–while red meats provide a rich source of proteins, they often come packaged with health-hazardous saturated fats and excess sodium. Recent studies are showing that replacing red meat options–and particularly processed red meats– with poultry, fish, and plant-based protein sources (i.e. a tofu dog or veggie burger can provide a complete protein profile without loading on the extra fats and salts.
Links Between Red Meat and Cardiovascular Disease
Recent studies at Harvard School of Public Health have suggested that the regular consumption of even modest portions of read meat can be linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and related cardiovascular conditions. Meanwhile those who replaced red meats with lean proteins from fish, poultry, or vegetarian sources–such as beans and soybeans–seem to enjoy a significantly reduced risk for developing heart and circulatory conditions. One study found that as little as 1.5 ounces of processed red meat each day–about two pieces of bacon or a single hot dog–could be linked to up to a 20 percent increase of the risk of dying from a cardiovascular-related disease. These kinds of statistics are making vegetarian and lean meat options increasingly important for individuals looking to maintain a good health outlook.
Red Meat and Colon Cancer
Current dietary studies have also begun to focus on red and processed meats as a source of increased risk for colon cancer. The Harvard School of Public Health recently found that every added serving correlated to a 10 to 16 percent higher risk of dying from cancer-related complications. Such studies also indicate that high-temperature grilling of red and processed meats can increase the amounts of potential cancer-causing compounds. For instance, cooking meats over a high flame can quickly multiply the number of heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are though to be linked to a number of digestive cancers. The American Institute of Cancer Research suggests that those who do enjoy the occasional steak or burger on the grill can help to reduce the presence of these harmful compounds by following a few simple guidelines:
- Partly pre-cook meat in a microwave or oven to reduce overall time on the grill.
- Allow meat to marinate before grilling.
- Use a low flame to grill meats whenever possible.
Replacing Red Meats in Daily Diets
While modern studies on the effects of red meat on the modern diet are ongoing, preliminary research strongly suggests that replacing red meats with lean meats and modern meatless options may be one of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and cardiovascular conditions.