After years of worrying that tucking into red meat could lead to a heart attack or cancer, you can relax and enjoy the Sunday roast, say researchers.
A report demolishes the ‘myths and misconceptions’ about the meat, saying that most people eat healthy amounts which are not linked to greater risk of disease.
Modern farming methods have cut fat levels, which can be even lower than chicken, while red meat provides high levels of vital nutrients, including iron.
A vegetarian having a Cheddar cheese salad will eat seven times more fat, pound for pound, than lean red meat contains, says a review by the British Nutrition Foundation.
However, the World Cancer Research Fund, which advises people to curb red meat consumption and cut out processed meat, disputed the findings.
The 77-page review, which looks at current evidence on health and red meat, found no evidence of ‘negative health effects’.
It shows on average men in the UK eat 96g of red meat and processed meat a day and women are eating 57g.
Those eating more than 140g a day are advised by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to cut down, as these levels are linked to disease.
There has been a cut in consumption over the last 30 years, with Britons eating less than many other European countries including Spain, Italy, France, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The review says there is ‘no conclusive link’ between cardiovascular disease and red meat, which actually contains some fatty acids that may protect the heart.
At current levels of average consumption, there also is no evidence of a link to cancer, it says.
Cooking methods which overdo or char the meat are a much more likely cause of any link with bowel cancer, says the review.
Dr Carrie Ruxton, an independent dietician and member of the Meat Advisory Panel, which is supported by a grant from the meat industry, said: ‘This review highlights that eating red meat in moderation is an important part of a healthy balanced diet.