Is red meat back on the menu?

Following on from our recent Nutrition News article, which discussed the health considerations of switching to a plant based diet, another study has been published that goes against the recent advice of cutting back on red meat.

This article, “Is red meat back on the menu?” by the BBC looks at a study by researchers at the Dalhousie University and McMaster University in Canada, which concludes that the risks of eating red meat are not as high as what was previously reported. Instead the researchers have resolved that there is “low-certainty evidence” of adverse health consequences of reducing red meat consumption, to which many health organisations and nutritional researchers are opposed.

It is important to note that the researchers themselves are not saying there is no risk involved in the consumption of red meat and Public Health England are not changing their guidance on limiting meat intake in light of this research. What the study does highlight, however, is the difficulty of obtaining conclusive evidence in nutrition research as there are so many external factors that play a role in observational studies and randomised clinical trials.

How Omega-3 fish oil could benefit heart health

Findings of a recently updated meta-analysis of data from 13 trials suggest that omega-3 fish oil could benefit heart health.

The findings, as reported by Medical News Today provide the most up-to-date evidence of omega-3 and its impact on the body, the heart in particular.

The three main types of omega-3 are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The body cannot make ALA at all and must obtain it from dietary sources while the amount of DHA and EPA the body can make from ALA in the liver is so small it is important to obtain these types from diet also.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be sourced from food and food supplements but, because the formulations can vary widely, it is very important to check the label carefully to ensure there is the right mix of DHA, EPA and ALA.

cooking food health benefits

Could cooking food impact microbial health

Scientists at UC San Francisco and Harvard University have found that cooking food, prior to eating, can alter the composition of the microbial ecosystem of the gut. When evaluating the microbiome of subjects after consuming raw versus cooked beef, the researchers saw, surprisingly, little difference, however, when comparing raw versus cooked sweet potatoes there was a significant difference. This reiterates findings discussed in a previous Nutrition News article on the health benefits of raw versus cooked food.

The findings, covered by Science Daily, suggest that the consumption of some raw vegetables, such as sweet potato, can lead to poorer bacterial diversity of the gut. The researchers believe this is due to potatoes having a high quantity of low digestibility starch, where cooking the food group can alter its chemical properties in a positive way.

Of the study’s findings, senior author Peter Turnbaugh, PhD, said, “We were surprised to see that the differences were not only due to changing carbohydrate metabolism but also may be driven by the chemicals found in plants”. Despite these promising findings, it is worth noting that the study authors themselves have made clear that more research is needed to uncover more conclusive results.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.