Red meat in the diet

Dr Gill Jenkins, family GP and member of the Meat Advisory Panel says, “Red meat remains an important part of a healthy, balanced diet as it is a key source of iron, zinc, B vitamins and potassium. Lean cuts of meat are now lower in fat and calories than ever before thanks to farming improvements. Despite media headlines, government experts are clear how much red meat we should be eating – that is up to 70g per day. With average intakes now at 71g, most people can continue to enjoy red meat at current levels.”


Red meat plays an important role in the diet of the majority of people in the UK.  It is naturally rich in protein, low in sodium and provides a range of vitamins and minerals that contribute to good health and well-being. 

Asking people to avoid or limit red meat fails to take into account the fact that red meat is the best available source of iron and zinc, a source of high quality protein, B vitamins, and selenium. The European Food Safety Agency recently approved a total of 77 health claims for pork and similar numbers for beef and lamb for use in marketing and on packaging, based on the minerals and vitamins they each provide.  

A comprehensive study published in Nutrition Bulletin[1] reported that red meat, particularly lean red meat, provides the following nutrients needed for normal health:

  • Vitamin A: for eye and skin health
  • B vitamins for energy release and prevention of fatigue
  • Vitamin D: for bone health and immune function
  • Iron: for oxygen transport, immune function and cognitive function
  • Magnesium: for muscle and nervous function
  • Zinc: for reproductive health, hair and nails
  • Selenium: a powerful antioxidant
  • Potassium: for blood pressure control

If you wanted to find out more information about the healthy role red meat plays in the diet, visit our blog, where we look at how much protein do we needhealthy eating and red meat, and Are vegetarian diets really better for health?  

[1] Ruxton CHS et al. (2013) Micronutrient challenges across the age spectrum: Is there a role for red meat? British Nutrition Foundation Bulletin, 38, 178-190.