Foods you avoid BUT SHOULDN’T. Part 1: RED MEATWhy we avoid it:

Over the last 30 years, red meat has been blamed for everything from heart disease to cancer. Researchers thought that this was due to the meat’s saturated fat and cholesterol content, as well as the sodium and nitrates in processed deli meats. Bolstered by alarmist newspaper and magazine headlines, people tossed the red meat out of their diets, afraid of turning their stomach into meat repositories.

Why we should eat it:

The meat controversy arose from observational studies that are always plagued with confounding variables. Take, for instance, the “healthy user bias.” Folks who are health-conscious and have listened to the mainstream press and vilified red meat are also the same who are likely to refrain from refined sugar, trans fats and processed foods. On the other side of the spectrum, heavy meat eaters tend to be older guys who are very fond of alcohol and cigarettes, don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables, are very sedentary and tend to have other health problems that may or may not stem from their carnivorous habits.

No matter how good you are as a statistician, there are too many factors to consider when studying humans in their natural, complicating habitat. Recent reviews find that the evidence gathered so far is insufficient to support a clear positive correlation between red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, heart disease, stroke or death. And despite claims to the contrary, there’s no consistent evidence demonstrating that the saturated fat in meat significantly raises cholesterol levels. In fact, a large study with almost 60,000 Japanese women found the opposite: The more saturated fat they ate, the lower their risk of stroke. Red meat has been unfairly blamed for the ills of our society. Red meat haters are missing out on an excellent source of heme iron, a form that is absorbed and utilised much more effectively than the non-heme iron found in vegetables. If there’s not enough fish or sunlight in your life, then red meat can contribute significantly to your overall vitamin D intake. This form of vitamin D is absorbed more quickly and easily than other dietary forms. Zinc is also easily absorbed from meat and is a very important source in our diets, especially if we don’t eat enough organ meats and shellfish. Zinc is essential for many physiological functions and forms part of the structure for many proteins and enzymes. The fat of red meat is usually equal parts saturated and monounsaturated fat, with only a small amount of polyunsaturated fat. Grass-fed beef is highly recommended because of the higher content of conjugated linoleic acid, a compound that seems to aid fat loss, and a healthier omega-6:omega-3 ratio. If you were scared of red meat before, fear no more! Eat that (grass-fed) steak guilt free.