Red Flags to Red Meat

College of DuPage Nursing Student  Zach Striplin writes that in most suburbs in America, burgers and hot dogs are readily available. In my neighborhood alone, I can count 10 fast food joints within a 5-minute car ride. America is the largest consumer of red meat, and more likely than not, if you have had a cheeseburger in the last week, according to U.S Department of Agriculture the average American eats about 71 pounds of red meat a year.

Although, certain red meats, such as beef, pork and goat can be cheaper and even considered delicious, they are not the healthiest choices to have on your plate. Eating red meat regularly causes an increased incidence of hypertension, stroke, diabetes and certain forms of cancer such as colon cancer, but I am sure most of you have heard that before.

A study that was conducted by a team at Harvard School of Public Health observed a correlation between red meat consumption and increased mortality rates over the course of 36 years in approximately 120,000 individuals. The NIH states, “one additional serving per day of unprocessed red meat over the course of the study raised the risk of total mortality by 13%. An extra serving of processed red meat (such as bacon, hotdogs, sausage and salami) raised the risk by 20%”.

Now, if you are frequent red meat eater there is time for change and it is not necessary and nearly impossible to cut out red meat from your diet altogether. Red meat is a great source of protein and iron in our diet but protein should be a relatively smaller portion of our plates compared to fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy.

An 8oz. steak has roughly 78 grams of protein and the recommended daily value is around 56 grams! One average sized steak puts a person over the daily threshold of what is recommended. Healthier alternatives or methods should be used to reduce the risk of potential health problems attributed to red meat. One method is reduction. Some alternatives for protein to replace your red meat intake would include poultry (chicken or turkey), eggs, peanuts or peanut butter and fish. Beef can also be purchased, but it is best to purchase lean meat rather than fat. Lastly, although bacon and many processed red meats are delicious and trendy, if not avoided, they should be eaten rarely or treated like a sugary snack.

There is nothing more American then going to Cubs game in the summer and having a ballpark frank, but instead lets make the conscious decision to settle with the peanuts.

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