Denise Minger is a former vegan and very popular blogger. She is well-known for her thorough debunking of the China study.

The video above is her presentation at the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium, Meet Your Meat: An Objective Look at a Controversial Food.

As she says, there may be a few concerns about high meat consumption, but they can easily be fixed with a few simple adjustments.

This article discusses the main concerns that she raises in her lecture.

Eating Only Muscle Meats Can Create an Imbalance

Throughout evolution, humans didn’t just eat muscle meat. Back in the day, they used to treasure the organs.

Hunter-gatherers ate “nose-to-tail,” which means muscles, organs and other tissues. Organs like liver tend to have a lot more micronutrients than muscle, such as vitamin A, vitamin B and iron.

Muscle meat also tends to be very high in the amino acid methionine. Animal studies have shown that eating less methionine has health benefits and may lengthen lifespan (1, 2, 3).

Human studies have come to similar conclusions, suggesting that limiting methionine may improve metabolic health and even increase lifespan to a similar extent as calorie restriction (4, 5).

However, more human research on the topic is needed to form a solid conclusion.

Nonetheless, including more organ meat in your diet in place of muscle meat may help you limit your intake of methionine and increase your intake of many nutrients.

Summary Including organ meat in your diet in place of muscle meat may limit your intake of methionine. Limiting methionine in the diet may improve health and even affect longevity.

Dangers of High-Heat Cooking

There are some dangers to cooking meat at very high temperatures.

The most common high-heat cooking methods include grilling, broiling, frying and deep-frying.

High-heat cooking methods can form unhealthy compounds like heterocyclic amines (HAs), advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

They tend to form as some of the nutrients in meat react with some of its other components at very high temperatures (6, 7).

These unhealthy compounds have been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast and pancreatic cancer (8, 9, 10).

Below are a few tips on how to minimize these harmful compounds in foods:

  • Use gentler cooking methods like stewing, baking, steaming and boiling.
  • Limit your intake of charred and smoked foods. If your meat is burnt, cut away the charred pieces.
  • Don’t expose meat directly to a flame and minimize cooking at temperatures above 150°C/300°F.
  • Marinating meat in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic or red wine can reduce HCAs by up to 90% (11).
  • When cooking at very high heat, flip the meat frequently.
Summary Cooking meat over high heat can form unhealthy compounds like heterocyclic amines, advanced glycation end products and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which have been linked to an increased risk of disease.

Red Meat Is Very High in Iron

Meat is generally very high in the mineral iron.

Iron binds to hemoglobin in the blood and plays a vital role in delivering oxygen to all the tissues in your body.

However, having very high iron levels in the body can cause problems in the long term, especially in men.

Women have menstruation to help them remove excess blood and iron from the body. However, men, non-menstruating women and children don’t have an efficient mechanism to expel iron from the body.

If iron consumption is very high, it can cause iron to build up in the blood, causing symptoms of iron toxicity (12).

This is not a concern for most people, but a genetic disorder called hereditary hemochromatosis can result in elevated absorption of iron (13).

For those who have this disorder, eating a lot of iron-rich foods can cause problems, and red meat happens to be very rich in iron.

If you have this condition, there are a few things you can do to reduce your iron levels:

  • Donate blood regularly.
  • Drink coffee or tea with meals that contain a lot of iron, as they hinder the absorption of iron.
  • Avoid foods that are rich in vitamin C when you eat foods with a lot of iron, since vitamin C increases iron absorption.
  • Eat less red meat.

The only way to know if this pertains to you is to get your iron levels tested, or to get tested for the genetic mutation itself.

Summary Red meat is rich in iron. This is rarely a concern for healthy people, but it can be a problem for those who develop dangerously high blood levels of iron.

The Bottom Line

Meat, especially if the animal it comes from was naturally fed, is a healthy food.

However, as with most things in nutrition, there are some potential concerns regarding a high meat intake.

These include the consumption of the amino acid methionine and unhealthy compounds that form during cooking, as well as a high iron intake.

Luckily, these concerns can easily be accounted for with some minor adjustments to your diet.