Showcasing the Mediterranean diet and Asian diet  











In 1997 the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research released the most comprehensive report of its kind into the link between diet and cancer. The report involved distinguished researchers from the United States, Britain, Japan, China, India and Latin America, who reviewed over 4,500 studies to come up with their detailed analysis, which was titled Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective.

The report found that: "Diets which contain substantial amounts of red meat and meat products probably increase the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, and possibly increase the risk of cancers of the pancreas, prostate and kidney."

The expert panel who prepared the report went on to recommend that if red meat is eaten at all, it should be limited to no more than three ounces per day—about the size of a deck of cards. Instead, it suggested eating fish and poultry.

This advice was backed up by scientists from Harvard School of Public Health, who have been conducting an ongoing study involving more than 80,000 women since 1980. They found that women who had beef, lamb or pork as a daily main dish had two and a half times the risk of developing colon cancer as those who ate the meats less than once a month.

In another study, a group of researchers led by Dr. James Herbert from the University of Massachusetts Medical School reviewed a survey of prostate cancer deaths in 59 countries. They found what a number of studies have found, that prostate cancer deaths are much lower in countries where red meat is eaten rarely. The researchers noted that the lowest death rates from prostate cancer are in countries such as Japan, where people traditionally eat a great deal of fish and very little red meat. "Animal energy was positively associated with prostate cancer mortality," commented Dr. Herbert, "on the other hand, intakes of cereals, soybeans, other nuts and oilseeds and fish were negatively associated with prostate cancer mortality."

Red meat and its accompanying saturated fat can certainly be bad your health, but it's also important to remember that red meat only becomes a health hazard when you eat too much of it. Learning from the traditions of Asia and the Mediterranean, it would seem that the key words are moderation not elimination. A steak, some bacon, or a hamburger once in a while won't do you any harm. It's only when you start eating too much of these types of food, which is easy to do in our "meat loving" culture, that the problems can start arising. So aim to include red meat in your diet no more than 1-2 times a week.
The thought of cutting back on red meat usually leads to the inevitable question: "where am I going to get my protein?" Our answer: from fish, shellfish, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), poultry and nuts. This is where Mediterranean and Asian cultures have gotten their protein from for the last few thousand years. Like red meat, these foods are packed with protein, but unlike red meat, which is typically loaded with saturated fat, these foods contain mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fats. (click here to learn more about saturated and unsaturated fats).
When you eat red meat follow the Mediterranean and Asian tradition of using it in small amounts mixed with vegetables and grains, primarily as a flavor enhancer.

When you do eat red meat opt mostly for lean cuts such as sirloin and eye of round, and remove any visible fat before cooking.

When dining out at a restaurant choose seafood, poultry, legume and vegetable dishes over red meat dishes (or have a small meat dish as an appetizer instead of the main course).


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