Q: I’ve heard that eating meat isn’t good for us. But you recommend in The Origin Diet to eat it. Does meat cause cancer and heart disease?
– Ted from Santa Fe, New Mexico
A: It’s not so much meat, but the type of meat that we are eating that is the problem. Several studies show that consumption of red meat, with its high amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, is positively correlated with heart disease in both men and women. People who daily eat meat have a 50% higher risk of developing heart disease compared to vegetarians. In fact, disease risk increases as both the length of time and frequency of meat consumption increases. Consequently, people who adopt a vegetarian diet early in life have a lower risk of disease than do people who wait until after age 50 to switch from meat to beans. On the other hand, wild game or meats that nutritionally resemble wild game, such as fish, shellfish, and poultry breast, have little saturated fat and, in the case of fish, also contain healthful fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Our bodies evolved over hundreds of thousands of years consuming these types of meats, so it’s no wonder we thrive on omega-3s, and the iron, zinc, B vitamins, and protein in meat, which are very well absorbed. The bottom line: Limit meat consumption and choose only healthful meats (chicken and turkey breast meat, seafood, and wild game) or cooked dried beans and peas. – Elizabeth Somer