The Pros and Cons of Red Meat


That my personal favorite protein choice is cold water fish-especially salmon-is no surprise.  However, many of my patients and readers ask me about eating meat.  Beef, pork, lamb and veal are all excellent protein sources.  As we know, protein is essential to life itself; if we do not eat adequate protein our bodies enter into an accelerated aging mode.  This is because our muscles, organs, bones, cartilage, skin and the antibodies that guard us from disease are made of protein.  In fact, the very enzymes that facilitate critical chemical reactions in our body (from digestion to the building and re-building of cells) are made up of protein.  As protein is digested, it is broken down into building blocks of amino acids, which are then utilized by the cells to repair themselves.  Like fish and poultry, meat contains all the amino acids necessary for cellular repair.

There is a negative aspect to the consumption of red meats, and that is that they can be high in saturated fats (so can poultry-that’s why we recommend that it be lean and skinless).  As we have learned, too much saturated fat is inflammatory.  Another negative aspect (and this includes poultry as well) is that they may also be given antibiotics, hormones and other substances potentially harmful to humans.  A European Union scientific panel has confirmed that eating beef from cattle raised on growth hormones is a potential health risk.  Since 1988 the EU has had a ban on the use of such hormones and a prohibition of imported beef treated with hormones, which has led to a long running trade disagreement with the United States and Canada.  The North Americans dispute Europe’s scientific evidence and allow widespread fattening of cattle with growth hormones.

If you want to eat meat, follow these safety guidelines.   First, try to buy only organic meat, raised from animals that are free of antibiotics and hormones, whose feed is free of potentially dangerous chemicals-ideally the animals (including poultry) will be free-range-that is, not raised in feed lots but out in a pasture.

Another option is to consider some of the “new” types of meat being offered in the marketplace, such as bison (buffalo) and ostrich.  Both have all the flavor and versatility of the red meats but present a much healthier profile.

43 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Red Meat

  1. I couldn’t agree more with you, my daughter who had breast cancer 2 years ago does not eat red meat any more – the occassional buffalo or ostrich, and it means the family eats less aswell. I am over in the States in a few weeks and will top up on my skin care creams from you. I also eat very little red meat now in England – just been on one of those “Boot Camps”, so loosing weight and feeling better for it.

  2. THANK YOU for always giving us the best information available!
    I use your line of products and love them!

    Gina D. B: Clemen

  3. Dear dr. Perricone,
    i would like to ask about ather sources of protein such as instant whey protein isolate wchich you recomend to use in smoothies. Can you please explain more about it ? can i use it as a sabstitute to animal kind protein?And why only Now foods product? Im sorry if you have disscused it before and i missed it then maybe you can send me a link on that?
    Thank you in advance…
    P.S i just start to use cold plasma for face and its a real miricale-thank you a lot for it :)

  4. I am not a person that eats much red meat. When I do partake I am miserable with gas and indigestion. Fish and chicken to not have any affect. I will start looking for buffalo and ostrich. Living in Michigan I think it will be difficult to find.

    • In response to Pam’s remarks, buffalo is being raised in Michigan and is becoming more and more available. Whole Foods probably offers ostrich, but sometimes you have to drive quite a bit to find the nearest Whole Foods. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they sell Buffalo patties raised without antibiodics/horomones.

  5. I am still waiting to hear your answer on the now contorversery of the fish oil capsules.
    The study says there are harmful cancer causing agents the way they are made.
    Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really want to continue taking them.
    Thank you

  6. I fully agree with you!! I don’t hardly ever eat any chicken. The only meat I eat is salmon, tuna or trout. I only it it if it’s organic or wild caught. Believe me there is a difference in the taste!!! I have tried bison, elk and ostrich. They are good. I know I feel alot better when I don’t consume a large amount of any kind of meat. I haven’t been sick or had any type of ailment for years since I started eating organic/clean. With limited amounts of meat. I also exercise 6 days a week. I alternate different programs along with weight lifting. Thanks for all of your knowledge, hard work and dedication to keeping us young and healthy Dr. Perricone. God Bless You. Sincerely, Jane Winsauer

  7. Your new post has really got me thinking. I often turn to all the different choices for protein (including red meat) really out of being board with just eating fish, beans and whole grains. I have tried all kinds of different recipes to change it up a bit. It seems that by your advice it is better to eat organic, natural or free range choices of red meat, pork, and poultry. It might be a bit more costly, but considering the consequences to our bodies I think I am worth it. One another note, I love the image of the cow:)

  8. There are MANY other ways to get protein, besides red meat! I have been a vegetarian for 24 years and NEVER had low protein on my yearly blood panel..Also, I am lean and everybody tells me I look 26,not 43..thanks to my NON-meat diet.

  9. I agree with you Dr., I was raised on “natural red mets” years ago, long before the word organic took to the scenes. I stopped eating red meat at 24 ,am now 65, and look 18 younger…My choice of protein is Salmon and white fish. and lots of PRAYER

  10. Do you recommend a facial sponge for the face ??

    Milky cleansers vs. soap?

    Shaving with or against the grain

    Thank you

  11. Dr. Perricone is shown as endorsing a weight loss natural substance derived from a cactus (Caralluma fimbriata)in a daily newspaper whole page add. The product is called “AcaiSlimaluma”. Dr. Perricone’s photo (the same from the Internet) is presented in the add. Is he really endorsing this product?????

  12. I appreciate this article. Is it true that eating meat can have a factor in creating more wrinkles? I read this in a magazine not long ago.

  13. I think it is also important to note that grass-fed beef is a healthier choice as it is higher in omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef.

  14. Bruce and I were recently discussing that we have reduced the amount of red meat we eat. However, we want to be sure that we are eating healthy red meat, and chicken, when we do. The labeling on chicken is not always clear. We will try bison and ostrich. I actually went to an old country inn in southern France where the chef raised and served ostrich! It was delicious.

  15. Another aspect to be considered when talking about meat eating is BLOOD TYPE. Dr. James D’Adamo – the originator of this type of eating in this country, has discovered through his 50+ years of research, that especially Blood Type “O” people MUST eat red meat as part of their ideal diet. Blood Type “B” can eat some occasionally, and Blood Type “A” never. One size does NOT fit all and I have experienced first hand the difference this can make for someone.

  16. Is it possible to get all of the essential nutrients that meat provides from plant based proteins without eating any gluten?

  17. I loved this blog, especially the picture of the cow. I try to eat meat as a condiment, limiting myself to a maximum of 4 oz. How much meat should I eat?

  18. Dr. Perricone covers many subjects
    essential to our understanding healthy
    diets and healthy bodies, especially
    healthy skin.
    In spite of the fact that I have kept abreast
    of ‘the””best food choices, best products for
    skin health, for many years, I still learn
    from his books and articles and especially
    enjoy his website.
    His teachings are really appreciated.

    Elizabeth Moreskine
    Brentwood, Ca.

  19. During the ’80s my friend and I ate wild deer and beef raised on pasture, and we lost a lot of weight, and lived like kings.

    But we did a LOT of exercise too! I must admit, if I don’t get enough protein, my work out regimen is basically unattainable, but I have resources to neither of these meats, so I’m attempting to supplement as much plant and fish protein as I can, and still be successful.

  20. After reading your article, I was compelled to ask the question, “What is your opinion of alternate sources of protein?” Personally, I eat fish (salmon) and some others. There are alternate sources of protein other than animal flesh. What is your analysis of the effects of non-animal protein on longevity and anti-inflammatory processes? Thank you for your response.

  21. Here in California, beef labeled “Naturally Raised” means no Steroids or Growth Hormone. I have found beef labeled “Organically Raised” at Whole Foods Market, that being beef that has been fed a diet exclusively of grasses and/or grain and/or corn that is certified Organic.

    Now, the real good stuff is “Naturally AND Organically Raised.” Wow. It tastes . . . different. And it LOOKS different in the display window, and when cooked. Hard to describe . . . it seems, cleaner. Much more expensive.

    What I usually do, therefore (since I’m not rich yet) is buy the “Naturally Raised” beef at whatever fat content, cook it on a relatively low temperature (to keep down the AGEs) and then drain the fat manually.

    Good Eating!

  22. Most “free range” is not free range. All this means is that chickens are keep in cages and given a 1 by 1 foot area to “run.” Or they are keep in a warehouse without cages but there are so many birds that they are pilled up on top of each other.
    I sympathize with the vegans. I went vegan several years ago. I have fallen off the wagon several times within the last couple of years though. I don’t feel as bad eating wild salmon because I know that they have not been tortured like land animals have. But I still feel really bad. One thing that my family and I did was get chickens for eggs. We know where the eggs are coming from and what the chickens are feed. They are spoiled rotten and have a yard to run and play in =) They lay eggs whether they are fertilized or not, so I don’t find eating them cruel. I understand that not everyone has the ability to get chickens, but if you do, that is one option for protein.


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