Meat and human health — current knowledge and research gaps

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Meat is highly nutritious and contributes with several essential nutrients which are difficult to obtain in the right amounts from other food sources. Industrially processed meat contains preservatives including salts, possibly exerting negative effects on health. During maturation, some processed meat products develop a specific microbiota, forming probiotic metabolites with physiological and biological effects yet unidentified, while the concentration of nutrients also increases. Meat is a source of saturated fatty acids, and current WHO nutrition recommendations advise limiting saturated fat to less than ten percent of total energy consumption. Recent meta-analyses of both observational and randomized controlled trials do not support any effect of saturated fat on cardiovascular disease or diabetes. The current evidence regarding the effect of meat consumption on health is potentially confounded, and there is a need for sufficiently powered high-quality trials assessing the health effects of meat consumption. Future studies should include biomarkers of meat intake, identify metabolic pathways and include detailed study of fermented and other processed meats and their potential of increasing nutrient availability and metabolic effects of compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1556
Issue number7
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Fermented meat, Processed meat, Cancer, Cardiovascular disease

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