“The potentially unhealthful effects of eating red meat are so small that they may be of little clinical significance for many people.”
That quote from a recent New York Times article1, and attributed to a recent dietary guideline published in the Annals of Internal Medicine2 certainly will get some attention.
While followers of The Paleo Diet® have known for a long time that “There’s beef, and then there’s beef,”—meaning lean, grass-fed, unprocessed beef is good for you, and fatty, unprocessed or processed beef certainly is not—this new story about beef is quite a revelation for many readers in the general public. No doubt, there will continue to be controversy and confusion.
Unfortunately, we do not often see distinctions in the media, or for that matter in the scientific literature, between the various kinds of beef that people consume. As Paleo followers understand, the differences can be enormous.
In fairness to the Johnston team of researchers, they did make distinctions between unprocessed and processed beef, and summarized and analyzed the existing data for both. However, the frequent primary focus on the content of potentially harmful palmitic acid (a saturated fat, 16:0) or adulterants (i.e., antibiotics, other additives) in many cases seems to lack evidence.
Here at The Paleo Diet®, we continue to encourage you to be smart about your consumption of beef. Lean, grass-fed, unprocessed beef is loaded with wonderful nutrients, and avoids the adulterants and excess palmitic acid that turn what would otherwise be a great meal into a really bad idea.
We will continue to follow this story, and offer updates as they are warranted.
If you’re still interested, here is another article we wrote about red meat and The Paleo Diet!
1Carroll, A.E. 2019. The real problem with beef. New York Times, 1 October 2019, updated 2 October 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/upshot/beef-health-climate-impact.html
2Johnston, B.C. et al. 2019. Unprocessed red meat and processed meat consumption: dietary guideline recommendations from the NutriRECS Consortium. Annals of Internal Medicine. DOI: 10.7326/M19-1621 https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2752328/unprocessed-red-meat-processed-meat-consumption-dietary-guideline-recommendations-from
Bill Manci is president of Fisheries Technology Associates, Inc., a Fort Collins, Colorado-based aquaculture, aquaponics, and fisheries consulting firm.