The right amount of red meat can be good-mood food

Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

By Rita Jane Gabbett on 3/21/2012 (reprinted from

Australia’s Deakin University health researchers have found that eating either too little or too much red meat is related to depression and anxiety in women.

Associate Professor Felice Jacka and colleagues from Deakin’s Barwon Psychiatric Research Unit investigated the relationship between the consumption of beef and lamb and the presence of depressive and anxiety disorders in more than 1,000 Australian women. The results are published in the current edition of the journal Psychotherapy Psychosomatics.

Too little

“We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health, as studies from other countries had found red meat consumption to be associated with physical health risks, but it turns out that it actually may be quite important,” Associate Professor Jacka said in a news release. “When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount.”

Jacka noted that even when taking into account the overall healthiness of the women’s diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained.

“Interestingly, there was no relationship between other forms of protein, such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins, and mental health,” said Jacka.

Vegetarianism was not the explanation either. Only 19 women in the study were vegetarians, and the results were the same when they were excluded from the study analyses.

Too much

Study results also showed eating too much red meat had mood consequences.

“We found that regularly eating more than the recommended amount of red meat was also related to increased depression and anxiety,” she said.

Given the results of this study, Jacka concluded following the recommended weekly intake of red meat could boost mental health.

“We already know that the overall quality of your diet is important to mental health. But it seems that eating a moderate amount of lean red meat, which is roughly 3-4 small, palm-sized servings a week, may also be important,” she said.

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