WASHINGTON – Researchers continue to evaluate the role of meat in a healthy diet. The Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education has released two new scientific reviews about products like bacon, deli meats, sausage and cured meat, how they are formulated and produced and how these products can play a role in a healthy diet.
“Health professionals are bombarded with information about meat and poultry from a variety of sources, and these papers provide a strong scientific summary of meat’s role in the diet,” said Foundation Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Janet Riley. “We hope they will be a valuable resource for those tasked with addressing consumer questions about meat and poultry.”
The two reviews by nutrition expert Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN, are “Should We All be Eating Less Meat?: Exploring the Science and Controversies Surrounding Meat” and “Understanding Processed Meat.”
The first review, “Should We All be Eating Less Meat?” evaluates the health benefits of eating meat, both by examining health concerns related to meat as well as the potential health risks of eliminating meat from the diet. The review also examines current dietary patterns which points out that most Americans are not eating “too much” protein from meat, poultry and egg sources – with relation to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
It concludes that, “lean meats in controlled portions consumed within limits for sodium, saturated fats and total calories can be a part of a healthy eating pattern. Overall healthy dietary patterns including a wide variety of foods in the context of a healthy lifestyle are more important to good health and the best dietary advice.”
“Understanding Processed Meat” takes a closer look at the processed meat category and meat products that fall under that umbrella – bacon, deli meats, sausage and cured meat. It evaluates common meat processing methods, the ingredients used, the role of nitrate and nitrite in meat curing and the evidence linking processed meat to cancer.
In the review Zelman writes, “Clearly, a diet containing excessive processed meats is not healthy nor is it recommended – just as any imbalanced diet is not recommended. Nevertheless, processed meat can fit into a healthy dietary pattern when consumed in moderation.”
Zelman’s paper notes that on average Americans are consuming processed meats at recommended levels.
Both papers were shared with dietitians at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Chicago in October. They are available at meatpoultryfoundation.org and www.meatpoultrynutrition.org.