Meat has a bad reputation.  Most people think of meat, especially red meat, as dangerously unhealthy. However, meat has unique properties that make it more nutritious, easier to digest, and less likely to irritate your body than vegetables. Does the science behind meat-phobia hold up under the microscope?

Is red meat less healthy than other kinds of meat?

Meat is made of animal muscle fibers, which come in two major types: fast and slow. Dark muscle fibers (“slow” fibers) are designed for endurance activities, whereas light muscle fibers (“quick” fibers) are designed for rapid bursts of activity. Therefore, dark muscle fibers have greater energy needs. For muscles to make energy, they need an energy source (fat), oxygen to burn the fat, and vitamins and minerals to run the reactions that release the energy from the fat. Therefore, dark meats usually contain more oxygen, more fat, and more vitamins and minerals than light/white meats.

To hold the oxygen, dark (slow) muscle fibers need larger amounts of an oxygen carrier protein called myoglobin. Myoglobin is red, which is why red meat is red. Myoglobin is rich in iron, the mineral that binds oxygen, so red meats contain more iron than white meats. Because most dark meats contain more fat than light meats, they can be higher in calories.   However, because dark meats also contain more minerals and B vitamins, they are actually more nutritious than light meats.

Did you know that all types of meat—red, light, and white—whether from mammals, birds, or fish—contain about the same amount of cholesterol? There is no more cholesterol in a pound of steak than in a pound of chicken.

But doesn’t red meat increase risk of death?

A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health [Pan 2012] claimed that eating red meat increases our risk of death from all kinds of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. This was an epidemiological study, which, by its very nature, is incapable of proving cause and effect; therefore, even if it were the best epidemiological study ever done on the planet, it would be impossible for the authors to conclude that red meat causes death.

Below are just two of the problems I noticed in this study:

  1. There were two huge groups of people in this study: the Nurses’ Health Study (over 120,000 women) and the Health Professionals Follow-up study (over 50,000 men). Every 2 years, the nurses were asked how often they had eaten red meat over the past 2 years. Every 4 years, the male health professionals were asked how often they had eaten red meat over the previous 12 months. Can you imagine? Even though I keep track of what I eat in a daily food record, if you asked me what I ate LAST WEEK (never mind 1 to 2 years ago), I honestly couldn’t tell you. Naturally, these questionnaires can’t tell us how often people forget, underestimate, or perhaps even lie about what they were actually eating.
  2. It just so happened that the people who reported eating the most red meat per day, also happened to be more likely to:
  • smoke cigarettes
  • be sedentary
  • weigh more
  • have diabetes
  • take aspirin
  • eat more calories per day
  • drink more alcohol
  • eat more dairy products

These are all excellent examples of what researchers call “confounding variables.” Confounding—translation? Confusing. Even if all of the data are accurate, how can we really know whether the people who ate more red meat were more likely to die because of the red meat, or because of one or more of these other issues?

For a more detailed critique of this study, please see Gary Taubes’ excellent blogpost, entitled “Science, Pseudoscience, Nutritional Epidemiology, and Meat.”

Are saturated fat and cholesterol bad for my heart?

Numerous studies by cardiology researchers have finally disproved the myths that dietary fat, meat, and cholesterol cause heart disease. In fact, some of the healthiest diets in human history have been very high in meat and animal fat. To read more about this topic, please see my post The History of All-Meat Diets. We have been eating animal meats, animal fat, and cholesterol for about two million years, but heart disease has only been a major problem for us for about 50 years. The major culprit is therefore much more likely to be something that is NEW in our diets; the current evidence points most strongly to refined and high glycemic index carbohydrates, not fat, meat, or cholesterol. To read more about how sugar raises “bad” cholesterol levels and why dietary cholesterol is not bad for you, please see my cholesterol page.  To read more about the connection between sugar, insulin resistance, and heart disease, please see my post Why Sugar is Bad For You: A Summary of the Research.  To see an example of how researchers desperately twist logic in an effort to connect red meat to heart disease, please see my post Does Carnitine From Red Meat Cause Heart Disease?

Does red meat cause cancer?

If meat is so carcinogenic, why was cancer so uncommon until the last century or so? We are not eating any more meat now than we did a hundred years ago, yet cancer incidence is skyrocketing. So, why do we believe that meat causes cancer?

There have been numerous research studies claiming to tie red meat to cancer (particularly colon cancer), however, these were weak epidemiological studies, and are not representative of results in the field as a whole. The fact is that studies of meat and cancer yield very mixed results. Many studies show no connection at all between meat and cancer, and some studies even show a protective benefit. There is simply no solid scientific evidence to support the belief that red meat increases cancer risk.

This did not stop the World Health Organization (WHO) from proclaiming to the planet in October 2015 that red and processed meats cause cancer. Unfortunately, the WHO report is all smoke and mirrors. To see what I mean, please read my detailed analysis of the WHO report: WHO Says Meat Causes Cancer?

Charred meats and cancer

Charred meats and wood-smoked meats contain “PAHs” (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and “HCAs” (heterocyclic amines). PAHs and HCAs have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. Studies in humans are limited to epidemiological studies, and even these have been inconclusive.

PAHs are present not just in charred meats, but also in anything organic (plant/animal matter) that has been burned–from cigarettes to forest fire smoke to automobile exhaust. PAHs are also present in many other foods, such as cereals, vegetable oils, cheese, and coffee. In fact, cereal products, not meats, are the biggest sources of PAHs in the typical diet.

HCAs, on the other hand, can only be formed from protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, and poultry.

Grilled and fried chicken can contain even higher amounts of PAHs and HCAs than grilled red meats, yet studies have shown no connection between poultry intake and cancer.

Nitrates and nitrites in processed meats

Nitrates and nitrites are used in the production of processed meats like bacon, salami, and ham. However, they are also found naturally in many plant foods, often in very high amounts. For example, pound for pound, spinach contains at least 30 times more of these compounds than hot dogs do. In fact, some manufacturers of processed meats boast that they use celery powder (very high in nitrate), instead of the more commonly used sodium nitrite to preserve their meats.

What is the difference between nitrates and nitrites?  It can be confusing because these terms are often used interchangeably by food manufacturers, physicians, and nutritionists.  The reason why people lump them together so often is because nitrates easily turn into nitrites in foods and in the body.  Nitrates and nitrites are very similar chemical salts with very similar properties, and mixtures of nitrates and nitrites are often used in food processing.   Nitrites are about 3 times more potent than nitrates as preservatives.

In combination with salt, nitrates and nitrites prevent the growth of the bacteria that causes botulism (a type of food poisoning). They also act as antioxidants, keeping the fat in the meat from turning rancid, and giving the meat an unnatural pink color. Nitrates and nitrites themselves have not been shown to cause cancer; however, they can react with proteins in the meat to form nitrosamines, which are known to cause cancer in laboratory animals. The addition of special antioxidants during processing cuts down on this chemical reaction and reduces the amount of nitrosamine formed, but doesn’t eliminate it completely. Therefore it is best to choose fresh, unprocessed meats when possible.

It may also be wise to limit intake of vegetables that are very high in nitrates, such as spinach and celery. Bacteria in our saliva convert vegetable nitrates into nitrites, which we swallow. These nitrites can then react with proteins in our stomach to form nitrosamines, exactly the same way they do during meat processing. These nitrosamines are potential carcinogens; this is why some researchers believe that diets high in nitrates are associated with increasing rates of stomach cancer.

Will animal protein damage my kidneys?

There’s no evidence for it so far. In fact, the human kidney is designed to be able to handle large volumes of animal protein, perhaps because our ancestors would have sometimes needed to eat large amounts of meat at one sitting, instead of eating smaller portions several times per day every day, the way we modern people do.

The vast majority of studies demonstrating a connection between high protein intake and kidney damage have been conducted on laboratory animals, not on people. A recent review of the research examining the connection between diet and kidney disease is only able to cite a single human study of animal protein and kidney problems; it was an epidemiological study, which did not control for refined carbohydrate intake. This study found no association between higher animal protein intake and kidney damage unless the kidneys were damaged to begin with (keep in mind that epidemiological studies cannot prove cause and effect). The review article then went on to cite TEN human studies linking refined carbohydrates (fructose in particular) to the development of specific kidney diseases.

A study done in 1930 of two men who ate a 100% meat diet for a full year revealed no signs of kidney problems whatsoever.

Most reassuringly, a recent 2-yr clinical study of the effects of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet on kidney function in humans with healthy kidneys found that it was completely safe [Friedman 2012].

It is far more likely that refined and high glycemic index carbohydrates endanger the human kidney than animal protein. Humans are omnivores, so we have evolved to be able to fuel our bodies using plant and animal foods. However, NO mammal is designed to handle large amounts of refined carbohydrate.  This is probably why people with diabetes are at such high risk for kidney problems—they have high blood sugar and insulin levels, which damage delicate blood vessels throughout the body (microvascular disease), including inside the kidney.

Meat is the only nutritionally complete food

Animal foods (particularly when organ meats are included) contain all of the protein, fat, vitamins and minerals that humans need to function. They contain absolutely everything we need in just the right proportions. That makes sense, because for most of human history, these would have been the only foods available just about everywhere on the planet in all seasons.

Below you can see that animal products are superior sources of most essential vitamins and minerals, including 4 that do not exist in plant foods at all:

Micronutrients Availability in Plant and Animal Foods

Meat nutrients are ready-to-use.

In contrast to vegetables, meat does not contain any “anti-nutrients”, like cellulose, phytates and tannins that interfere with digestion or absorption of vital compounds such as vitamins and minerals.

The forms of vitamins and minerals in meat are the easiest forms to absorb:

“Heme” iron, the form of iron found in meat, is at least 3 times more available to our bodies than “non-heme” (vegetable) iron.

Vitamin A from animal sources is 12 to 24 times more available to us than vegetarian sources.

Vitamins B12 and K2 are only found in animal foods.

Meat is gentle on your delicate system.

While vegetables protect themselves with chemicals that are potentially harmful to our cells, animals protect their meat with claws and fangs, so meat itself does not contain any irritating substances. Meat is an especially friendly choice if you tend to be chemically sensitive.

Is meat hard to digest?

Quite the opposite.  Meat is efficiently broken down by our own natural enzymes, so we do not need to rely on intestinal bacteria to help us digest it. This means that there are virtually no intestinal gases produced in the process. Meat is efficiently absorbed by our intestines, so there is very little wasted. The belief that meat contributes to constipation is a myth. Unless you have a specific sensitivity to a certain type of meat, you will have no trouble digesting it. Meat can, however, become “trapped” in your digestive tract behind sluggish high-fiber plant foods and dairy products, which are very difficult to digest.

What about meat and gout?

Please see my blog article: Got Gout but Love Meat?

Can eating meat cause iron overload?

I find no evidence in the scientific or medical literature linking meat consumption to iron overload. It is true that too much iron can be toxic to cells, and it is true that the body has no way to get rid of excess iron other than through the shedding of skin and intestinal cells or through bleeding. However, the body is very smart and knows not to absorb too much iron. The liver releases a hormone called hepcidin which monitors our iron status and tells our intestinal cells exactly how much iron to absorb. On average, we lose 1 to 3 mg of iron per day, so this is approximately how much we absorb.

Every article I found about iron overload in humans, including an excellent 2012 review in the New England Journal of Medicine, had to do with health conditions that disrupt normal iron metabolism, not with simple overindulgence in red meat []. These include hemochromatosis and other genetic disorders of iron metabolism, certain enzyme deficiency disorders, liver disease (alcohol-induced liver damage, viral hepatitis), multiple blood transfusions, and iron supplement overdose (as opposed to red meat overdose). There is also a common non-genetic health problem that can disrupt normal iron processing in the liver called “dysmetabolic hyperferritinemia.” DH is seen in some individuals who have severe metabolic syndrome, usually with fatty liver. While iron deficiency is a very common diet-related condition, diet-induced iron overload does not seem to exist in otherwise healthy people.

Meat is naturally low in carbohydrate

This means that it is impossible to eat meat and generate a significant insulin spike. Insulin spikes are to be avoided as much as possible, as they seriously destabilize our brain and body chemistry and can lead to inflammation, cell damage, disruption of cholesterol and fat metabolism, and numerous chronic diseases.

What types of meat are healthiest to eat?

Healthy, naturally-raised animals fed their natural diets produce meats with healthier fat profiles, including higher levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed animals.

Avoid factory-farmed, grain-fed animals when you can. Whenever possible and affordable, choose meat products from naturally-raised animals. This means animals that have been fed a diet most similar to what they would eat if they were living in the wild:

  • Cows/Lambs/Sheep—grasses
  • Chickens—grasses, insects, worms
  • Turkeys—grasses, insects, seeds, small animals
  • Ducks/geese—fish, grass, algae, insects, fruits, nuts
  • Pigs— grasses, root vegetables, fruits, nuts, insects, worms, small animals
  • Fish—wild, not farmed. Food varies depending on species.

Poultry sellers often boast that their birds are fed an all-vegetarian diet, but if you notice above, birds are naturally omnivores and eat small creatures for protein and fat (worms and insects, for example). This is why backyard birds enjoy suet (animal fat) in the wintertime—insects and worms are scarce in winter and they need the fat and protein for energy.

Bottom Line about Meat and Health:

Healthy animal foods are wholesome and nutritionally complete.

Meat is easy to digest and absorb, and contains no anti-nutrients or irritating substances.

There is no evidence that meat, saturated fat, or cholesterol are harmful to human health. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that meat, saturated fat and cholesterol are vital to health.

Whenever possible, choose healthy meats from naturally-raised animals.

Limit processed meats.

When eating grilled meats, you may want to trim away any burned or blackened edges.

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  • Des

    Hi Dr. Ede, what is your take on AGE’s and meat? Unfortunately, animal products contain the most AGE’s. I mostly eat an animal based diet but I don’t want my body aging because of it. It seems like even meat is a double-edged sword:(

  • Interesting question. I have not yet reviewed that literature, however, my suspicion is that it is a very different thing to eat a pre-formed AGE (are they even absorbed intact?) than to eat a food that results in the internal production of AGE’s, damaging healthy molecules in the process. But I’ll have to look at the science to see if that is actually the case. One more item on my very long nutrition research to-do list…

    • Des

      Thank you Dr. Ede. It’s also difficult to find any literature on eating raw meat. I would like to know what the benefits of eating say, beef tartar are next to cooked steak. There’s tons of literature on raw food but it pertains to veggies and dessert-like snacks (of course).

      • This is a great question, and one that also came up at a presentation I gave over the weekend. I will research this question and add the answer to my meats page soon! The AGE question will also be part of that expansion of the meats page.

  • Roberto Garcia

    Hello, I’ve heard some rumors about eskimos having a very short life expectancy, and that they have lots of health problems. is it true?

    • Hi Roberto

      I believe those rumors come from 20th century studies of Arctic populations who had long before been exposed to modern foods and therefore were no longer eating their traditional mostly-animal-food diet. I was not able to find statistics about 19th century populations, so I give credit to Stephan Guyenet who found information about the lifespan of the Inuit Eskimos from the early 1800’s and posted the data in an excellent blog post: The data show that about 25% of the Inuit lived beyond the age of 65.

      I would also recommend a more recent article about the health of Arctic peoples, which is available free on the internet; it is divided into two parts: and These articles go into detail about the health of Canadian Arctic populations in the 1950’s, and teach us that they continued to have significantly lower rates of most diseases than we do.

      Thank you for your excellent question!

  • Des

    Hello Dr. Ede, I’ve heard that eating salmon three or more days in a row leads to MORE inflammation because too much omega 3 is also not good. I eat smoked salmon daily, should I be concerned?

  • This is more of a fats question than a meats question, so I will post the answer as an additional paragraph to my fats page.

    • Des


  • Among zero carbers who ea only meat (some may eat fish ) there is quite the debate about whether due to Vit A needs, eating only muscle meat leaves one nutritionally deficient in Vit A. The question raging seems to be: will only eating muscle meats cause deficiency?. Is it necessary to eat offal to get adequate Vit A? This supposed that the person eats *only* meat – no eggs or dairy.

    • Hi Mary Lewis
      Yes, it is true that eating a 100% animal food diet (dairy and egg free) without eating organ meats can theoretically lead to nutrient deficiencies, not only of Vitamin A but also of folate, to give another example. Therefore people who choose not to eat organ meats may need to use supplements to avoid such deficiencies. However I am curious to hear the other side of the debate so if you have a link to a forum thread I’d be interested in reading what others have to say.

      • David Kraus

        Maybe when determining the daily amount of meat, vitamin requirements should be placed above protein requirements. Maybe if a person is vit A or folate deficient, they will crave more meat.

  • Thank you for your response, Dr. Ede. There was a previous thread that was “calmer” but I cannot locate it. This is the current thread and if you make your way through it, you will see the arguments from both sides, coupled with quite alot of frustration!

  • Dr Ede, I am sorry that the exact thread did on come through on the facebookgroup link. If you use that link and scroll down to the thread with a Youtube video pic of snow with some blood on it that is labeled: Timberwolf Deer Kill Video, you will be at the right place. Sorry for the imprecision of the link! OK! Here’s a new link and I think the thread will be at the top of the page as I commented on it to bump it up.

  • Thanks Mary Lewis–

    I just read the thread and I yes, I can appreciate the problem and the frustration it is causing the z-carb commty. I will need to hunt for evidence to see if I can substantiate or disprove the theory that organ meats are necessary to prevent essential nutrient deficiencies…this may take a while! Thanks for pointing it out to me. It’s an interesting debate.

    • Brandon

      Hi Dr. Ede,
      Have you found any evidence in either direction as to the necessity for eating organ meat while otherwise being carnivorous?

  • Des

    Hi Dr. Ede, isn’t magnesium essential? It’s low in animal foods but high in cocoa-

    • Yes, Magnesium is essential but Mg deficiency is very uncommon because Mg is ubiquitous in plant and animal foods. While it may appear that plant foods contain more Mg than many animal foods, keep in mind that fiber and phytic acid interfere with the absorption of Mg, therefore animal foods may be superior sources due to higher bioavailability.

  • Bob Kelly

    Dr. Ede,
    Taking into account all the different options we have for a balanced diet, what are the correct daily intakes of meat, fruit, vegetables, and dairy?

    • Hi Bob
      I don’t know if anyone knows the answer to this question. I think there may be more than one answer, depending on the individual. However, if you’re asking for my opinion, as far as I can tell, the correct daily intake of dairy for humans is zero, and the correct daily intake of meat is the amount that provides at least the minimum daily requirement of protein (see protein page).

      As far as I can tell, humans don’t require vegetables, but some people tolerate them very well, in which case they can be used to add variety, texture, and calories to the diet. As for fruit, again, I don’t think there is any human requirement for fruit, but those with healthy carbohydrate metabolism seem to tolerate fruit very well. However, for those with carbohydrate sensitivity issues such as obesity, diabetes, etc, fruit should be kept to a minimum.

  • Kendra Moore

    I personally have trouble with digesting vegetables, they irritate my stomach. I’ve been living on a high meat diet for at least 5 years (also with minimal dairy) and I’m very healthy. I’m not overweight, and I’ve also been getting ill much less.

  • Beth

    Dr. Ede,
    Sorry for writing this message under “Meats,” but “mushrooms” had no where else to go! Questions, please: Would our hunter-gatherer ancestors have eaten mushrooms? What did Mother Nature do to encourage or discourage humans and other animals from eating them? What do you feel personally about their value in our diet? Thanks!

    • Dear Beth

      So true–the lonely mushroom is in a class by itself and I agree completely that it deserves its own blog post–would love to delve into this topic in a future article as I am curious myself about how mushrooms are processed by our bodies and whether or not they are good for us. As far as our ancestors go, I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine that they ate all kinds of things, depending on where they lived, time of year, and how hungry they were. Thanks for the great question.

      • Rich

        I don’t know much, but I know to be VERY careful with mushrooms. Some of them are deadly. Some of them are psycho-active.

        I mistakenly ate some psycho-active mushrooms once and I’ll tell you it was not a nice “trip” at all.

        • rooibos

          Re: ‘trips’…google Michael Pollan’s recent fascinating article on the potential for ‘mushrooms’… “The Trip Treatment”

  • MUI

    What do you define as a Processed Meats ? Meats that are salted and dried ? or those which available in canned and packaged with chemicals preservatives ?


    • This is a very tough question…I suppose I think of the most highly processed meats as those which have been fermented (like salami), naturally preserved with things like the naturally occurring nitrites in celery powder, or artificially preserved with chemicals (such as many commercially packaged/canned meats like hot dogs and bologna). Even cooking can be considered a form of “processing”, I suppose, if one wanted to be very strict in defining the word, so it’s a slippery slope, I agree…

  • Ato

    I cannot stand to eat fruits or vegetables. They make my digestive tract go haywire. Whole grains do the same to me. Therefore, I eat a high meat diet as much as possible. I feel so much better on days that I eat only meat and eggs verses days when I eat grains.

    • Hear hear!

      • Cris

        My diet is 95% Meat, cows, chickens, fish, pigs and eggs. All parts of animals. I have 54 yo but I feel better than when I was 20 years old and My diet was plenty of grains, legumes, sugar, gluten, fructose, etc.ř

  • Kanisha

    So is eating fried meats not that bad as American society says?

    • Daniel Miller

      If using the right oil

    • Dean

      Anything that is fried is bad. Meat that is cooked on an open grill, where fat drips below is much healthier. Also grill on a gas or propane BBQ. Food that is fried absorbs the grease within which it is cooked. So yes, fried meat is as bad as American society says it is.

      • trash80

        Again, depends on the oil. Fried in PUFA (PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acid) is bad. Fried in animal fat is good, so look for cow, pig, duck, chicken, etc fat. Coconut oil is a good alternative too, if one really wishes to use plants.

  • Palmea

    K2 is found in Natto as well and the is not animal based!

  • Ria

    Have there been studies on exclusively meat diet? I am not talking about Eskimos….

    • Sean1978

      I don’t think there is, mostly just some out there now self experimenting on the diet and some claim it works well but I see problems with some others like dry eyes and cold hands and feet etc. I also have done it and get a lack of energy after a while and get dry eyes. Maybe I was not eating enough? I get really anxious as well as a very foul mood. I believe two guys went on an all meat diet for a year as mentioned in the article and a guy named Bear did it for most of his life (NIckname Bear, look him up) and claimed it was the best way to eat. I have seen others claim they are on it for years too (Anderson Family) and it helped them out a lot. My fear is the friendly flora connection, Mucous lining of the gut and the dry eyes etc., what will it do long term? It is not researched enough for me to fully trust it to be honest at this point.

      • Dear Ria and Sean,

        Thank you Sean for the excellent answer to Ria’s question. I agree that there are no formal clinical studies of all-meat diets, to the best of my knowledge, in the scientific literature. I wrote another post summarizing what research I could find:

        When I personally have eaten an all-meat diet, I have not experienced any issues with dry eyes or digestive problems. There are more and more people out there experimenting with all-meat diets and writing fascinating stories about the experience. Sites I highly recommend if you haven’t come across them already:

        Esmee LeFleur’s wonderful site:

        Amber Wilcox O’Hearn’s amazing sites: and

        Kelly Hogan’s terrific site:

        • Sean1978

          Dr Ede I have been to those sites and am fascinated by an all meat diet. I did one last year for a few months and felt clear headed and great but lost too much weight! I might not have eaten enough or done it right but I did feel better in a few ways. I got dry hands and feet though and was cold in the winter so I added carbs back in. A recent problem with carbs might lead me back to that diet to try. I might give it a try again and eat more this time perhaps? I can’t handle adding too much fat to the meats like some do so I just can eat around 85/15 or 80/20 cuts of ground beef like I know alot do and try to go from there.

          Kelly posts where I post as well so I can ask her things, very interesting story she has. The Anderson family also had a great story on the net that was taken down, if you read that you know what I am talking about. I go to Charles Washingtons sight on Facebook and post, very informative.

          I will read Taubes book as they recommend along with the book I already have The Science of Low Carbohydrate living. I know there is no rules here and you just mainly eat meat and drink water as most say so I might give it a good shot again for a while and see how it goes. If the diet is safe to do long term and I can heal my gut up some and get a little weight back on me I will do it, give it an honest try.

          • Hi Sean

            Very interesting! While I of course am not sure why you didn’t feel well during your all-meat experiment, some possibilities include:

            -not eating enough calories

            -not eating enough fat

            -not eating enough omega-3

            -not including occasional liver

            -beef sensitivity (I personally don’t tolerate beef well, but do fine with pork, poultry, most seafood)

            The first two, calorie/fat insufficiency sound most likely because of the symptoms you were describing, which are very common in people with anorexia who are not eating enough food and avoid eating fat in particular.

            If you don’t do well with animal fat for whatever reason, but want to avoid carbs, you might try a “mostly-meat” diet, and include some low-carb vegetables and some fatty plant foods such as avocados, olives, and coconuts.

            I had the pleasure of reading the Anderson family story shortly before it was (sadly) removed and just visited Charles Washington’s page (thank you for telling me about it!) Here’s the link if others are interested, it’s called “Zeroing in on Health”:

          • Sean1978

            I was not eating any Liver you are correct there. I found out later I was eating Ground meats and it built up histamine! I have a histamine intolerance you speak of in your interviews so felt awful on all meat because of it at times. I would get all those symptoms. I can handle beef but if it is vacuum sealed or from overseas (Organic type Ground Beef) forget it! I react and over time it built up the bucket of histamines and spilled over. I can eat beef but it has to be cut that day pretty much.

            You tolerate pork well (Had no clue as I thought they and fish were horrible for histamines!)? Any ideas on how to get or where to get fresher pork or Poultry into the diet without histamines? I know chicken without the skin is key here so I will look for some free range chicken without skin and try it. I need to eat fresher meats if I am to do an all meat diet. Histamine Intolerance as you know can make you feel awful, never had a problem there until I got higher in Oxalates from foods in my body (Sweet Potatoes etc.) and then started reacting more to things. I can try an all meat diet and the other things you mentioned at the bottom, most fruits and veggies are not my friend however ;). I might get some Fish Oil too for the Omega threes and try some organ meats once a week or so. If I eat any veggies or fruits they have to be low oxalate or salicylate, so that leaves few!

            I also wanted to know with your intolerance to histamine where you get your meats and how? From a store or just a butcher? Do you order them? It gets tricky there as some things you will react to from the store and some you will not depending on how fresh I am guessing since Freshness does count indeed (Freezing meats right away too helps).

            Also what fish are you eating?


          • Hi Sean

            I belong to a local meat CSA so the majority of the pork and poultry I eat comes freshly frozen from a local farm. When I buy supermarket meats I lean towards frozen or meats that look very fresh in the butcher’s case (no vacuum-packed meats or meats packed before the day I am in the store). With fish I also gravitate towards frozen (especially since I don’t live right on the coast anymore) although I seem to do fine with “steaky” fishes like tuna, salmon, and swordfish even if not frozen. When buying non-frozen fish I only buy it if it looks extremely fresh or the fishmonger tells me it was caught within the past day or so. Hope that helps!

  • Ken Holt

    I enjoyed the article. In a couple of places, you say that vitamin K2 is not available in plant foods. What about Natto?

  • Joe Owens .

    How did we eat meat pre – fire? In fact, if one eat a steak raw for a while, ones
    teeth would fall out. I’ve eaten big cooked steaks, and my jaw was killing me afterwards. Oh, and how did we catch, kill and eat animal’s pre – tools?

  • JP McDonald

    Dr. Ede, how about rabbits, I raised them for a while, and ate them as well, are they good for us, or should we pass. How about goats, are they the same as sheep or separate? and lastly I’m not clear on bacon, is it good to eat or pass?
    Thank you for all you are doing!

    • Hi JP

      Any kind of animal flesh, whether it’s from a fish, bird, or mammal, has roughly the same nutritional benefits for us. The difference between rabbit meat and many other kinds of mammal meat is that rabbit meat tends to be very lean. Dark meats contain more iron and fat, typically, which I view as a good thing. The only animal I can think of off the top of my head that is unhealthy to eat unless properly prepared is the pufferfish, due to the poisons it contains. Unless you are allergic to or sensitive to a particular animal food (as some people are to shellfish, for example), it is generally very good for you.

      As for processed and preserved meats like bacon, all bets are off. I don’t know of any definitive science out there to prove that bacon is less healthy than unprocessed fresh or frozen pork, but generally speaking, my philosophy is that fresh meats in their natural state, simply prepared, are probably best for us.

      In the next week or two I will be posting a complete analysis of the new World Health Organization report claiming that red and processed meats cause cancer, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, if you haven’t seen it, here is a fun poem I wrote recently about the report to pique your curiosity!

  • aConcernedScientist

    I have read a couple of your articles and enjoyed them. Until, that is, I read your brief criticism of Pan et al., 2012. I’m sorry, but did you read the article in question? First the survey asked respondents about their average intake over the past year (last 12 months). A 12-month retrospective survey question does have some limitations, including recall bias. But you misquoted the survey question when you stated male respondents were asked about meat intake over the past 4 years
    Also, did you not read that the validity and reproducibility of the food-frequency survey was assessed in a sub-sample of this cohort? For the sub-sample, intake was also measured by two 1-week food diaries AND they took subcutaneous samples of the participants’ adipose tissue to determine the proportion of fats in their bodies. Then the results of these 3 methods were compared.
    Finally, you failed to mention that nondietary confounding variables (smoking, weight, sedentary lifestyle, etc.) were controlled for in the authors’ statistical models.
    And no single study–be it epi or the gold standard RCC–can provide scientifically definitive proof. But as we know in science the converse is true, in that a single study can disprove. And as such, this single erroneous critique of yours has disproven me to be a reader of your blog.

    • Dear concernedscientist,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns. I welcome criticism and corrections and appreciate your feedback. Since I wrote this post more than 3 yrs ago, I pulled up the Pan article and re-read it. You are right that I made a mistake. Every four years, participants were asked to recall what they’d eaten over the previous year, not over the previous four years. I apologize for this error and will correct the text of the post accordingly.

      As for the other issues you raised, these are all true, but I didn’t mean to imply that they weren’t. My goal in citing this study was not to provide a thorough analysis of its methodology, but simply to give people a feel for how these studies are conducted and what some of the most basic potential
      problems with them are, particularly in comparison to experimental studies.

      Where we seem to differ most fundamentally may be that I don’t put any stock in even the best-designed epidemiological study, as my opinion about epi studies is that they are, at best, a tool to generate hypotheses, which must then be clinically tested. The fact that the authors attempted to validate food questionnaires and correct for various potential confounding factors doesn’t make the study any more meaningful in my eyes. The way I see it, it is pointless to statistically adjust for variables that couldn’t be properly measured in the first place.

      For those interested, here is an excellent article about the inherent lack of validity of food questionnaires in nutritional studies: Archer E et al 2015. The Inadmissibility of What We Eat in America and NHANES Dietary Data in Nutrition and Obesity Research and the Scientific Formulation of National Dietary Guidelines. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015;90(7):911-26.

  • patstar5

    What about AGEs (Advance Glycation End Products)? Doesn’t meat contain tons of these? I was reading about how carbs cause more AGEs in our body but it looks like meat contains more…

    • Hello, Patstar5

      I haven’t researched this topic myself, but I would guess it is a very different thing to eat AGEs than it is to eat in such a way that causes healthy proteins within our bodies to form AGEs. High blood sugar levels put us at high risk for internal AGE formation. One of the problems with AGEs is that they render our healthy proteins useless, turning them into toxic pieces of junk. We would need to understand whether the AGEs we eat are absorbed intact or whether they are broken down by the process of digestion into harmless bits.

  • Leandro Oliveira

    Since you say “When eating grilled meats, you may want to trim away any burned or blackened edges.”, what do you think about the Maillard Reaction? Do you think eating cooked meat is the best way to do it?
    Unfortunately, in our (fast) society, slow cooked meat is never a thing… But what do you think about eating raw meat?

    • Hi Leandro

      I haven’t studied raw vs cooked meats in any depth, but my sense is that raw meats may be healthiest from a nutrition standpoint because none of the nutrients have been altered/destroyed by cooking. Of course we have to take safety into consideration as well, which is why it is often recommended that most commercially available meat, poultry and seafood be at least partly cooked to destroy potential bacteria on their surfaces.

      • rrm

        So I eat raw meat….only. I don’t eat fruits or veggies or plants foods for that matter. I would love to take part in a raw meat diet study. Its mind blowing to me that there are literally none. I have done this for over a two years now and I haven’t gotten sick. Many health issues of mine have been reversed and disappeared. No joke. I truly want to take part in a raw meat study. I do feel that we are all being lied to and the reason nobody has done a study like this I find incredibly alarming. I have eaten mostly grass fed, hormone free organic red meat raw, but I have eaten USDA grain fed/CAFO meats and not gotten sick. I will eat a little bit of coconut oil and/or raw unrefined apple cider vinegar to clean my intestines out if anything bad, but my body is running top notch at this point in time. I don’t eat white meat or fish. Strictly red meat raw. No pork, because pork is disgusting. Lamb, beef, venison, bison, etc.

  • malcolm roe

    There are about 800 million practicing Hindus in India alone, they do not eat meats of any kind nor fish or even eggs. I spent 3 months in an ashram there. The inmates ate mounds of white rice in a day and very little else. I did not see one obese or sickly person, in fact the cook looked like Hercules.Some of the people had been there for decades with some in their 70’s and even 80’s

  • Msd310

    Does the long length of our intestines suggest we are meant for eating more plants than meat, like many vegetarians claim?

    • Dear msd310

      My understanding from exposure to the ideas of Dr. Michael Eades , Denise Minger , the excellent book “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Kieth (see link to book in my sidebar), is that our digestive system properties fall somewhere between those of obligate carnivores (animals like cats adapted a mostly-meat diet) and herbivores (animals like pandas adapted to a mostly-plant diet).

      The best information I could find in my search of the science this morning is this quote, taken from a paper written by Katherine Milton, PhD (UC Berkeley) Nutrition Vol. 15, No. 6, 1999:

      “When the human gut is compared with guts of extant apes, both similarities and differences can be detected. All hominoids (apes and humans), in keeping with their descent from a common ancestor, show the same basic gut anatomy consisting of a simple acid stomach, a small intestine, a small cecum terminating in an appendix, and a markedly sacculated colon. However, humans stand apart from extant apes in some features of gut proportions. In humans, more than half (.56%) of total gut volume is found in the small intestine, whereas all apes have by far the greatest total gut volume (.45%) in the colon. In addition, the size of the total human GI tract in relation to body size is small in comparison to those of apes.”

      • Msd310

        Thank you! This seems to confirm what I had grown up believing, that we were somewhere in between. I’m liking Denise’s article especially. I do wonder if ideal diets may differ among ethnic groups (for instance, lactose intolerance is more common outside of Europe).

  • Dean

    Remember, at the supermarket if you are able to buy foods that last a long time (months to years) without going bad means that it is unhealthy for you. Why? That’s because these products are filled with chemicals that help ‘preserve’ the food and keep it from going bad (canned foods and many frozen foods also fit into this category). Margarine and many other items that can last long durations on the shelf without refrigeration are dead giveaways. Avoid meats that have an expiry date that go beyond a month from its packaging date.

  • silentwave

    Dr. Ede, what’s your thought on this study claiming to prove a particular sugar in red meat is responsible for causing inflammation and cancer by red meat?

    • Approved

      • Mike

        Dr. Ede, then I’m confused a bit. Should we not be eating red meat due to sugars within?

  • Elsie

    Re the low levels of vitamins C and E in meats, would you recommend supplementation, Dr Ede? Thank you.

    • trash80

      High carb diets cause the body to require higher amounts of Vitamins, including C and E. A lower carb higher protein/fat diet will require less of these vitamins.
      I supplement vitamin C (ascorbic acid) during winter months and it does seem to keep flu and colds at bay. I, personally, never supplement E, but others may have a higher requirement than me. My diet is near-zero carb; I do like some plants and have them once in a while (mostly plant flesh and leaves, no seeds).

  • trash80

    This is already answered in the first part of this post.

  • trash80

    My father died of cancer caused by iron overload, so I, too, am interested in this.

Last Modified: Jul 12, 2017