There is so much conflicting advice around that we often don't know which way to look in the kitchen. But the latest Australian research suggests that red meat could be good for you — as it has been shown to reduce rates of depressive and anxiety disorders.
After we had stashed our stocks of red meat along with the barbie with last week's news that red meat increases the risk of heart disease, we're now tempted to fire up the grill again.
Researchers at Deakin University have found a link between consumption of beef and lamb and anxiety disorders and their conclusions are contrary to their expectations.
"We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health, as studies from other countries had found red meat consumption to be associated with physical health risks, but it turns out that it actually may be quite important," associate professor Felice Jacka from the research team said in a media release.
"When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount."
The finding were even true when lifestyle factors were taken into consideration.
"Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women's diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained.
There was also no relationship between other forms of protein, such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins, and mental health.
But before you get carried away with your next order, there was also a warning about eating too much red meat.
"We found that regularly eating more than the recommended amount of red meat was also related to increased depression and anxiety," she said.
As always, it seems moderation is the key.
"We already know that the overall quality of your diet is important to mental health. But it seems that eating a moderate amount of lean red meat, which is roughly three to four small, palm-sized serves a week, may also be important," she said.
Meat from grass reared cattle is also recommended.
"We know that red meat in Australia is a healthy product as it contains high levels of nutrients, including the omega-3 fatty acids that are important to mental and physical health," Jaka said.
"This is because cattle and sheep in Australia are largely grass fed. In many other countries, the cattle are kept in feedlots and fed grains, rather than grass. This results in a much less healthy meat with more saturated fat and fewer healthy fats."
The findings were published in the journal Psychotherapy Psychosomatics.
Click here for the chimichurri salsa with T-bone steak recipe pictured
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