Where's the beef? Reduce red meat, U.K. says
Avoid helping yourself to too many helpings of shepherd's pie or bangers and mash, the British government advises in its new red meat guidelines.
To be healthy, the guidelines suggest meat eaters drastically cut how much red meat they consume to no more than 500 grams a week or 70 grams a day, which equals a small lamb chop a day or two standard beef burgers.
That's down from the 90 grams a day maximum the U.K. suggested in 1998.
Since then, a large European study found people who ate about 160 grams of red meat a day probably increased their risk of colon cancer.
"This doesn't mean people have to become vegetarian, but if you're having a steak every day, that's probably not helping," said Ed Yong, head of health information and evidence at Cancer Research U.K.
An independent nutrition committee reviewed a number of studies to inform the new guidelines, concluding there isn't enough data to point to a safe level of red meat consumption but that less is better.
Scientists don't know why red meat is tied to cancer. They suspect that haem, the pigment that gives meat its colour, damages cells in the digestive system.
Substances formed by cooking red meat at high temperatures and processing meat could also contribute, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.
Arne Astrup, a nutrition professor at the University of Copenhagen, suggested people substitute red meat with more lean sources of protein like fish.
Canadian and U.S. food guidelines don't specify the quantity of red meat that should be consumed.
Canada's Food Guide recommends eating one to three servings of meat or meat alternatives every day. One serving of red meat is about 75 grams — the size of a small deck of cards. Half of your plate should be full of vegetables while one quarter should contain grains and the other quarter meat or meat alternatives.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada suggests people opt for lean cuts, trim excess fat before cooking and prepare with little or no added fat or salt, and watch serving sizes.
With files from The Associated Press