#528: Is Unprocessed Red Meat Problematic for Our Health?

In Podcasts by Danny LennonLeave a Comment


The consumption of red meat, specifically the distinction between unprocessed and processed varieties, has been a subject of considerable debate in nutritional science and public health. There is a fair amount of confusion and lack of clarity surrounding this issue.

While the harmful effects of processed meat are well-documented and less controversial, the evidence concerning unprocessed red meat is less consistent. This inconsistency often leads to a gray area in scientific discussions and public perception. In examining unprocessed red meat, we encounter a spectrum of claims, including minimal evidence of harm, context of overall diet and mechanistic concerns.

Epidemiological evidence shows varied health outcomes related to red meat consumption across different populations. These variations underline the importance of defining and measuring “high” and “low” intake levels accurately in research.

The challenges in nutrition research, including methodological flaws in meta-analyses and the rapid dissemination of simplified study results, can impact public health recommendations. Misinterpretations can arise from comparisons within narrow intake ranges or from studies failing to specify absolute intake levels.

This podcast episode’s goal is to clarify existing evidence, acknowledge areas needing further research, and explore why this topic is significant in the broader context of nutrition science, aiming to equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge needed to make nuanced and effective dietary recommendations.

Co-hosts for this Episode

Dr. Alan Flanagan has a PhD in nutrition from the University of Surrey, where his doctoral research focused on circadian rhythms, feeding, and chrononutrition.

This work was based on human intervention trials. He also has a Masters in Nutritional Medicine from the same institution.

Dr. Flanagan is a regular co-host of Sigma Nutrition Radio. He also produces written content for Sigma Nutrition, as part of his role as Research Communication Officer.

Danny Lennon has a master’s degree (MSc.) in Nutritional Sciences from University College Cork, and he is the founder of Sigma Nutrition.

Danny is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Sports Nutrition Association, the global regulatory body responsible for the standardisation of best practice in the sports nutrition profession.


  • 01:00 Introduction to the issue
  • 03:16 Processed vs. unprocessed red meat
  • 05:54 Health guidelines and recommendations
  • 06:56 Epidemiological evidence and dose thresholds
  • 09:55 Biological mechanisms and plausibility
  • 21:00 Criticisms and misinterpretations in research
  • 40:42 Substitution analyses and dietary patterns
  • 46:37 Mendelian randomization and genetic studies
  • 56:31 Effect modifiers and confounders
  • 01:13:18 Key Ideas Segment (Premium-only)

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