While looking up different foods to determine if they are good for you, bad for you, or in between, I have run into the same issue over and over. Conflicting information, when I looked up the potato, I found articles stating that they’re good for you and then just as many saying they’re bad for you. The same is true of eggs, meat, peanut butter, and a lot of other things. You have to read both sides of the story, look up the numbers yourself, and weigh your options. Conflicting answers are more common than finding the firm answer of “this is good for you!” What makes it even trickier is something I ran across today, let’s call it opinion spin. Yes there are pros and cons for different foods, but opinion spin occurs when an article uses information in a way in which to support their claim of “good for you” or “bad for you”. I was looking into red meat. We’ve all heard that it’s not good for you, is that true? If so how bad is it?
I read a bunch of articles both for and against and found several articles in both categories that actually cited the same Harvard study. I found that interesting, and annoying. The article I read saying red meat is bad for you cites this study as proof that red meat causes, or contributes to, coronary heart disease. The article talks about red meat being chalked full of saturated (bad) fat etc.. The article about not avoiding red meat used the same study to say that meat doesn’t raise your risk of coronary heart disease. How can the same study be used to say red meat isn’t bad for you, and say yes it is bad for you? I looked up the study to find out.
In the study they did an analysis of a bunch of other studies data to find out if there is a relationship between eating red (unprocessed), processed, along with total meat consumption with occurrences of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In other words, does red meat give you a heart attack?
The conclusion of the study was this:
“Consumption of processed meats, but not red meats, is associated with higher incidence of CHD (coronary heart disease) and diabetes mellitus. These results highlight the need for better understanding of potential mechanisms of effects and for particular focus on processed meats for dietary and policy recommendations.” (1)
Do you see it? The reason someone can spin it both ways. It’s the processed meat vs the unprocessed meat. Processed meats (sausages, bacon, hot dogs, etc.) did turn out to be bad for you, but unprocessed seemed to be fine. Now, to be fair the article I read that used this to say meat was bad, did use the term processed meat. However, it didn’t say anything about the unprocessed meat part of the same study. The article that was pro-meat did talk about the processed meat being bad for you. It just goes to show that just like in politics, in food and nutrition, people can always state things in a way to fit their agenda. If you really want to make yourself crazy, give some thought to who pays for the studies that people cite as scientific proof in the first place.