• Men are the highest consumers of red meat and often prefer pairing it with alcohol.

Red meat on a chopping board
Red meat on a chopping board
Image: Margaret Wanjiru

The season of pork or nyama choma is finally over. But if there is something that Kenyans might struggle to cut down on is red meat.

New research has linked a nutrient in red meat to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

If you are a fan of red meat who’s interested in cutting back but you are struggling with the idea of completely eliminating it from your diet, Nanyuki based Nutritionist Wincate Wangari says starting small is the way to go.

“Instead of cutting it out completely, you can start by reducing the portion sizes, for example, choose a day or two in a week where you can include it in your diet. You will reap the benefits of better heart health,” Wangari says.

In support of the research, Wangari says high consumption of processed meat like sausages, hotdogs or nyama choma (BBQ meat) is not good for you and you may risk other diseases like cancers, type 2 diabetes, stroke, infections, kidney and liver disease.

This high consumption is seen during the weekend when people are catching up with friends and family.

Men are the highest consumers and often prefer pairing it with alcohol.

The WHO also says roasting, which is done at high temperature, is a cause of concern as it increases the risk of some cancers, rise in obesity and poor heart health.

“Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are produced when meat is heated at high temperatures by pan-frying, roasting or grilling where there is direct contact with the flame, are thought to cause DNA damage,” she said.

PAH comes from the smoke when fat or juice from meat drop direct to fire or drop on a hot surface as it generates smoke.

Studies have linked it to the formation of tumours and cancer cells in the body.

Also, when it comes to stubborn belly fat, red meat might be blamed since it contains high amounts of saturated fats.

 Saturated fat is very unhealthy as it can aid the increase of cholesterol levels.

Having high cholesterol levels could increase our chances of having heart diseases caused by clogged arteries.

“Of course, red meat is a great source of nutrients like protein, zinc, iron, but moderation is key.”

With the high protein content which promotes muscle growth, provide iron for the synthesis of red blood cells and adds vitamin B12, Wangari says alternatives like poultry, fish, eggs and nuts can also offer essential micro and macronutrients.

“There many vegetables and bean dishes that are satisfying and filling, aim to have them at least two to three times in a week,” she said.

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