What Is Ugli Fruit Good For?

The Beauty of Ugli Fruit

Botanical name: Citrus x tangelo

While it isn’t really the ugliest fruit in the world, the ugli fruit does have a rather lackluster appearance, with thick, yellow-green skin so loose and leathery that it practically rolls out when you begin pulling it off. But don’t let its unassuming exterior fool you, because this mottled green citrus is truly delectable.

A tangelo variant, the ugli fruit’s taste is reminiscent of other citrus fruits, because it is, in a way, being a cross between other citrus offerings. Analysts note that its size rivals that of a grapefruit, with a milder, much sweeter taste, fibrous sections inside and a slight protrusion at the base that looks like an “outie” navel. Not only does it have its own distinct characteristics, ugli fruit also has an interesting lineage. Ask growers what an “ugli” is, however, and you might get a slightly different list of basic cultivars.

The first recorded experiments on tangelos were in Florida in 1897 and California in 1898. Purdue University’s Horticulture & Landscape Architecture’s website describes it as a “deliberate or accidental hybrid of any mandarin orange and the grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) or pummelo (Citrus maxima).” Merriam-Webster.com calls it a cross between a grapefruit and either a tangerine or mandarin orange, the latter two both having the botanical C. reticulate designation.

The ugli fruit, however, was purportedly discovered in a Jamaican pasture in 1917 by an estate owner named G. G. R. Sharp. His subsequent pollination forays involved repeated grafts onto sour orange, each time regrafting the resulting fruit with the fewest seeds. Sharp exported his uglis to England and Canada in the 1930s, then to New York City in 1942. Although nearly all the related seedlings being studied at the University of California were destroyed when the campus was expanded in 1951, four seedlings were saved for posterity.

Ugli fruit is so exclusive in the citrus community that it’s earned its own class designation. Now believed to be a natural cross between a mandarin orange and a grapefruit, it has a number of step-siblings, such as the Seminole, Nova, and Orlando. The “Minneola” tangelo variety is a Bowen grapefruit and Dancy tangerine cross, while the “Nova” is a Clementine tangerine and “Orlando” tangelo hybrid.

Today, you can find ugli fruit and other tangelo varieties in most major supermarkets between April and November, and they’re growing in popularity. Yuma County, Arizona, harvested more than 2,500 acres of Minneola tangelos in 2005, with a projected value of around $3.2 million.

Health Benefits of Ugli Fruit

With only 45 calories per serving (half of one fruit), uglis provide a whopping 70 percent of the recommended daily value in vitamin C, which is great for boosting your disease immunity, fighting infections, and important for the formation of collagen and maintaining artery elasticity. Calcium, of course, is in good supply, as well as vitamin A, and eight percent of your needed fiber per day. Ugli fruit is naturally fat- and cholesterol-free and has a low glycemic index.

UGLI FRUIT NUTRITION FACTS

SERVING SIZE: ONE-HALF FRUIT (122 GRAMS)

AMT. PER SERVING
Calories 45
Carbohydrates 11 g
Sugar 8 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 1 g
Sodium 0 mg

Research shows that the skin of tangelos, or flavedo – what cooks call “zest” – as well as the white “pithy” part right under it, called albedo, have nearly as many nutritional attributes as the fruit sections themselves, which scientists call “carpel.”
For some time, scientists have been interested in the possible role citrus fruits like ugli fruits have in fighting cancer and heart disease. More recently a potential was discovered in them that could be beneficial for such brain functions as learning and memory retention. Another advantage of ugli fruit juice is that it contains citric acid, which may prevent kidney stones.

“The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits,” a comprehensive report was undertaken by Dr. Katrine Baghurst of Horticultural Australia Ltd, revealed that tangelos, including ugli fruit, contain numerous, highly beneficial micronutrient compounds. More than 4,000 polyphenols and 60 flavonoids were identified, including catechins (flavanols), anthocyanins, flavones, and flavonols.

What do these do for the body? Numerous studies have shown that these substances offer a wide range of positive effects, including anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antiallergic, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic benefits. The polyphenol and flavonoid compounds may help protect against viral infections, allergies, and fungal conditions. Further, citrus skin peel also contains coumarins, another phytochemical shown to protect against tumorous cancers.

Humans have an intestinal enzyme with the ability to destroy the effectiveness of some medications by slowing the amount that enters the bloodstream. Furanocoumarins, a toxic compound in some plants in the Apiaceae family (such as celery and parsley) and Rutaceae (which includes citrus) inhibits this enzyme, so more of the medication can enter the bloodstream. Depending on what types of medications are being taken, some doctors instruct their patients not to eat grapefruit because it has high concentrations of furanocoumarins; other patients increase their grapefruit intake to get more of the drug into their system. Ugli fruit, however, has been found not to contain furanocoumarins.

Studies Done on Ugli Fruit

Nutritional characteristics were examined in the juice of a mandarin orange tangelo variety (Citrus reticulate) and grapefruits (Citrus paradisi) grown in Southern Italy. Eleven antioxidant free radical scavenging and iron-reducing (FRAP) compounds and flavonoids were identified, including lucenin-2 and vicenin-2.

Tests also found natural antioxidants in citrus fruits grown in Mauritius (an island east of Madagascar), including tangelos, thought to have therapeutic potential for diabetic patients. Using an oxidative stress model that imitated diabetes, the effects of antioxidative flavedo, albedo and several citrus pulp extracts of (1) tangor Elendale (Citrus reticulata – Citrus sinensis (orange) and (2) tangelo Minneola (C. reticulata × Citrus paradisis) on human adipocytes (fat cells), scientists found “significantly reduced” carbonyl (smoke-induced carcinogens) accumulation and slowed free-radical-induced hemolysis (red blood cell disintegration) of human erythrocytes (red blood cells) in response to advanced glycation end products generated by albumin (blood protein needed to maintain tissue health). Conclusion: “Mauritian citrus fruit extracts represent an important source of antioxidants, with a novel antioxidative role at the adipose tissue level.”

Healthy Ugli Fruit Recipe: Yogurt with Ugli Fruit & Muesli

Ugli Fruit Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. plain yogurt
  • 2 ugli fruits

Muesli:

  • 8 oz. dry oatmeal
  • 1 oz. dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 oz. sultanas
  • 1 oz. dried apple slices
  • 1 oz. hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1 oz. rye bran
  • 1/2 oz. flaked almonds

Procedure:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Peel the ugli fruit and remove the pith. Place fruit segments into a bowl separate from the juice.
  3. Divide the yogurt into four bowls, stir in the ugli fruit juice, place the ugli fruit segments on top and sprinkle 3 Tbsp. of muesli on each.

(From Ugli.com)

Ugli Fruit Fun Facts

The California Avocado Association published a nutrition study in May of 1922, introducing new varieties of citrus fruits and deeming the tangelo to be not an ugly fruit, but an “attractive” one. However, when a fruit importer requested “more of that ugly fruit,” a clever campaign capitalized on the fruit’s appearance by changing the last letter to an “i” to foster more interest in the marketplace.

Summary

There’s a reason why ugli fruit was given its name, but the main one was a ploy to stimulate interest in the marketplace. A “deliberate or accidental hybrid” with such cultivar as grapefruit, pummelo, mandarin orange, and tangerine, ugli fruit is a unique tangelo variety discovered in a pasture in Jamaica in 1917, with such distinct characteristics that it has its own botanical designation, Citrus x tangelo. While admittedly the ugli fruit is large, bumpy, and an odd yellow-green, it’s delicious and full of beneficial nutrients: 70 of the daily recommendation of vitamin C, plus plenty of vitamin A, calcium, and fiber, with anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-allergic, and antioxidant effects. It’s also one of several citrus fruits shown to fight cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, so when you’re deciding whether or not to buy ugli fruit, remember – the benefits are actually pretty attractive.

Other sources:

References:

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What Is Dragon Fruit Good For?

Dragon Fruit

Botanical name: Hylocereus undatus

Who knew there was a plant with a flower like an explosion of flame, which produces a beautiful but short-lived fruit with the appearance of a brilliant pink rosebud? This is the pitya – dragon fruit – indigenous to Central America but is also grown and exported from several Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam. Obtained from several cactus species, its succulent stem provides the uniquely delicious fruit with moisture in the arid climates where it grows.

Some dragon fruits have red or yellow skin (which looks a little like a soft pineapple with spikes) and white or red flesh, but always the beginnings of overlaid leaves, similar to an artichoke, and an abundance of small, black, edible seeds. The flavor is mildly sweet, like a blend of kiwi and pear, and it has a crunchy texture.

While it may seem a little strange at first, it’s easy to get to the fruit. Simply slice lengthwise and either scoop out the flesh, or quarter it and peel back the leathery skin. Eat only the white part with seeds, removing any residual pink parts, which are bitter.

Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruits have a surprising number of phytonutrients. Rich in antioxidants, they contain vitamin C (equivalent to 10 percent of the daily value), polyunsaturated (good) fatty acids, and several B vitamins for carbohydrate metabolism, as well as carotene and protein. Calcium is present for strong bones and teeth, iron and phosphorus for healthy blood and tissue formation. The benefits are realized in a number of ways, from a strengthened immune system and faster healing of bruises and wounds to fewer respiratory problems.

Dragon fruits have zero complex carbohydrates, so foods can be more easily broken down in the body, helped by vitamin B1 (thiamin) and other B vitamins. The phytochemical captin, used as a medication to treat heart problems, is present in the fruit itself, and an oil in the seed operates as a mild laxative.

The seeds of dragon fruits are high in polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) that reduce triglycerides and lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders. Eating dragon fruit can help the body maintain such normal function as ridding the body of toxic heavy metals and improved eyesight. Lycopene, responsible for the red color in dragon fruit, has been shown to be linked with a lower prostate cancer risk.

However, consume dragon fruit in moderation because it contains fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.

DRAGON FRUIT NUTRITION FACTS

SERVING SIZE: ONE DRAGON FRUIT (2 OZ. OR ABOUT 100 GRAMS), PEELED

AMT. PER SERVING
Calories 60
Carbohydrates 8 g
Sugar 9 g
Calcium 8 g
Protein 2 g
Fat 1.5 g
Fiber 1 g

Studies Done on Dragon Fruit

Detailed studies aimed at determining the relationship between a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, lifetime physical activity, and oxidative DNA damage with prostate cancer were measured. Many details were telling, such as the fact that men between 45 to 54 years of age who did not engage in physical activity had three times the risk of prostate cancer. The conclusion was that a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those containing lycopene, such as dragon fruit, and exercise were found to be protective against the disease.

Since limited information on the capacities of tropical fruits is available, one study explored with positive results the ability of tropical fruits such as dragon fruit to inhibit human cytochrome P450, which is highly expressed in the liver, but also known to be present other tissues such as in the small intestine, lung, and kidney, and especially linked to congenital glaucoma.

Dragon Fruit Healthy Recipes: Truly Tropical Fruit Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups fresh papaya, cubed
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup mango, cubed
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced or cut into quarters
  • 1 cup dragon fruit
  • Garnish: starfruit slices

Fruit salad dressing:

  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar or stevia

Procedure:

  1. Stir fruit salad dressing ingredients together in a cup until sugar/stevia dissolves. Set aside.
  2. Place all the fresh fruit in a mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss well to mix.
  3. Pour or scoop the fruit salad into a serving bowl, or into a prepared pineapple boat. Garnish just before serving with a few star fruit slices drizzled with fresh lime juice to prevent browning. Ready for the luau!

Dragon Fruit Fun Facts

The main reason for dragon fruit’s preciousness is that it lives only one night! First, a climbing cactus produces a beautiful pink or yellow flower. Sometimes called “moonflower” or “Queen of the night,” the plant blooms from evening to midnight, only to wither in strong sunlight. During the night, the pungent flowers are pollinated by moths and bats. Although the flower dies, the cactus bears pitya fruit about six times every year.

Summary

It could easily be called a “crazy” fruit, as its appearance is so improbable. Dragon fruit is low in calories yet offers numerous nutrients, including vitamin C, B vitamins, phosphorus, protein, calcium, fiber, captin, and antioxidants. It’s proven to lower blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure, strengthen bones and teeth, promote healthy blood and tissue formation, strengthen the immune system, heal bruises and wounds faster and prevent respiratory problems.

Like other red fruits, dragon fruit contains lycopene, which helps protect against cancer and heart disease. How can all these benefits be taken advantage of in this visually beautiful, exotic fruit? It’s best eaten chilled, chopped into cubes and added to fruit salad or blended into a refreshing drink or smoothie. This may become your new favorite fruit, and you don’t even have to slay a dragon.

Other sources:

References:

Antioxidants: Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

Antioxidants are natural molecules found in certain foods that help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are byproducts of metabolism and our environment.

Internal factors such as inflammation and external factors such as pollution, UV exposure, and cigarette smoke can increase free radical production.

Free radicals can damage cells all over the body and cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been closely associated with heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease and other inflammatory or ischemic conditions.

What do antioxidants do?

Tomatoes are a source of lycopene, an antioxidant that provides them with their red color.

Antioxidants serve as protection against the cell damage that free radicals can cause by terminating the free radicals reaction with those cells. Some antioxidants are products of normal metabolism and others are found in food.

Synthetic antioxidants are widely used in the cosmetic and food industries but may cause more harm than good due to their high volatility. As a result, it is important to obtain your antioxidants from natural sources as much as possible.

Micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, minerals such as selenium and manganese and many other flavonoids, polyphenols, and phytoestrogens found in food all serve as antioxidants.

Each antioxidant serves a different function and is not interchangeable with another. This is why a varied diet is so important.

What are the best sources of antioxidants?

The best sources of antioxidants are plants (fruits and vegetables). Foods that are particularly high in antioxidants are often referred to as a “superfood” or “functional food” and include many types of berries, leafy greens, eggplant, legumes such as black beans or kidney beans and certain teas. Foods with rich, vibrant colors often contain the most antioxidants.

The following foods are also good sources of antioxidants.

Cooking particular foods can either increase or decrease antioxidant levels. Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color. When tomatoes are heat-treated, the lycopene becomes more bioavailable (easier for our bodies to process and use).

However, studies have shown that cauliflower, peas, and zucchini lose much of their antioxidant activity in the cooking process. Keep in mind that the important thing is eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods, cooked and raw, so that preparation can be your personal preference.

How to incorporate more antioxidants into your diet

The following tips could help increase your antioxidant intake:

  • Make sure you have a fruit or a vegetable every time you eat, meals and snacks included
  • Have a daily green or matcha tea
  • Look at the colors on your plate; is all of your food brown or beige? If so, it is likely that the antioxidants are low. Add in foods with rich colors like kale, beets, and berries
  • Spice it up! Make turmeric, cumin, oregano, ginger, clove, and cinnamon your go-to spices to amp up the antioxidant content of your meals
  • Snack on nuts, seeds (especially Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds) and dried fruit (with no sugar or salt added).

Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:

There is no set recommended daily allowance (RDA) for antioxidants.

Acai Berries: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

Acai (ah-sigh-EE) berries are a grape-like fruit native to the rainforests of South America. They are harvested from acai palm trees.

The fruits are about 1-2 cm in diameter and a deep purple color. The seed constitutes about 80% of the fruit. The taste of acai berries has been described as a blend of chocolate and berries, with a slight metallic aftertaste.

Nutritional breakdown of acai berries

Acai berries and some leaves.
Acai berries are rich in fatty acids and contain more antioxidants than other popular berries.

According to a study analyzing acai composition in 2006, 100 grams of freeze-dried acai (fruit and skin) powder contains 534 calories, 52 grams of carbohydrate, 33 grams of total fat (74% of which is unsaturated fat) and 8 grams of protein.

Acai berries are rich in fatty acids, especially oleic, palmitic and linoleic acids. Acai berries contain 19 amino acids, as well as several sterols, including campesterol, stigmasterol, and beta-sitosterol. The phytochemicals in acai berries include mainly anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins.

Acai berries contain more antioxidants than other commonly eaten berries. They also are high in fiber and heart-healthy fats. The antioxidant effects of acai berries have largely been attributed to phenolic compounds.

Possible benefits of consuming acai berries

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like acai berries decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and an overall lower weight.

Cognitive function

Although age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease have no cure, research suggests that diets rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory polyphenolic compounds may lower the risk of these diseases.

Specifically, the antioxidant anthocyanin, abundant in acai berries, may lower oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting brain health.

Anthocyanins also have been shown to enhance and improve memory. Anthocyanins are thought to work by inhibiting neuroinflammation, activating synaptic signaling and improving blood flow to the brain.

Heart health

A spoonful of acai berry powder.
Acai berries are available in several forms, including frozen, juice and powder.

Anthocyanin consumption has strongly been linked to oxidative stress protection. One study found that regular consumption of anthocyanins can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32% in young and middle-aged women.

The fiber and heart-healthy fats in acai also support heart health. Heart-healthy fats increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol and decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Several longitudinal studies have reported a significantly lower cardiovascular disease risk and all-cause mortality with high consumption of fiber. Fiber intake also reduces LDL cholesterol.

Fiber intake is not only associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, but also a slower progression of the disease in high-risk individuals.

Anticancerous properties

Anthocyanins have been observed to engage in anticarcinogenic activities, although the exact mechanisms are unknown. Laboratory studies using a variety of cancer cells have indicated that anthocyanins:

  • Act as antioxidants
  • Activate detoxifying enzymes
  • Prevent cancer cell proliferation
  • Induce cancer cell death
  • Have anti-inflammatory effects
  • Inhibit some of the beginning of the formation of tumors
  • Prevent cancer cell invasion.

These functions have been observed in multiple animal and culture studies.

A study of 25 colorectal cancer patients given 0.5-2.0 g/day of anthocyanins for 7 days found improvement in several changes consistent with colorectal cancer chemoprevention. However, this study is limited due to the small sample size.

How to incorporate more acai berries into your diet

Acai berry smoothie bowl
One way of incorporating more acai berries into your diet is to make a smoothie bowl.

Acai can be purchased dried, frozen, as juice, as powder, in food products, and in tablet form.

Quick tips:

  • Purchase juices and smoothies with acai as an ingredient
  • Use frozen acai puree to make acai bowls
  • Add acai powder to oats, cereal or homemade granola bars.

Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:

Tropical acai bowl
Acai berry bowl
Acai magic shell
How to make a smoothie bowl.

Potential health risks of consuming acai berries

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Experiments have been done using acai pulp as an oral contrast for gastrointestinal MRIs. Very large doses of acai might affect the results of MRI scans, so it is important to let your doctor know that you have been eating acai berries if you are scheduled for an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) test.

Some supplement companies have made claims that acai berry supplements will help with weight loss. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:

“No independent studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that substantiate claims that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss. Researchers who investigated the safety profile of an acai-fortified juice in animals observed that there were no body weight changes in rats given the juice compared with controls.”

Acai berries have not yet been studied extensively. The health claims surrounding acai are relatively new and more research is need to solidify these claims. As with any new or fad food, there could be risks that have not yet been reported.

Red Meat: Good Or Bad For Health?

Red meat contains numerous vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthful, balanced diet. In recent years, however, its reputation has been severely blemished, with studies suggesting that red meat intake can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. But is it really that bad for us? We investigate.
[A variety of red meats]
Intake of red meat in the U.S. has fallen dramatically over the past 4 decades.

Red meat is defined as any meat that comes from mammalian muscle. This includes beef, lamb, pork, goat, veal, and mutton.

For many households, red meat is considered a food staple, with some of us consuming beef, lamb, and pork in different variations on a daily basis.

Last year, the average person in the United States is estimated to have consumed around 106.6 pounds of red meat. Although this might appear a high intake, it is a significant reduction from the average 145.8 pounds consumed per capita in 1970.

Over the past 10 years alone, red meat consumption has fallen by around 10 pounds per person, with 2014 seeing the lowest intake of red meat since 1960, at just 101.7 pounds per person.

But why are so many of us cutting down on red meat?

A shift toward plant-based foods

According to a 2016 Harris Poll, approximately 8 million adults in the U.S. are vegetarian or vegan, with concerns about animal welfare being the driving factor.

However, it seems that millions more of us are opting for plant-based foods over meat-based products because we believe that they are more healthful. The 2016 Harris Poll found that 37 percent of U.S. adults “always” or “sometimes” eat vegetarian meals when eating out, with 36 percent of these citing health reasons for their choice.

A number of studies have suggested that when it comes to health, a plant-based diet is a way to go. In December 2016, a position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claimed that a plant-based diet can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by 62 percent, as well as reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

“If you could bottle up a plant-based prescription, it would become a blockbuster drug overnight,” commented paper co-author Susan Levin, of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.

It is not only the health benefits associated with plant-based diets that are steering us away from red meat, however, but the health risks that might arise from eating red meat. We take a look at what some of these risks are.

Cancer

When it comes to red meat intake, cancer is perhaps the most well-established health implication.

In October 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report concluding that red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” meaning that there is some evidence that it can increase the risk of cancer.

Additionally, the WHO concluded that processed meats – defined as “meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation” – is “carcinogenic to humans,” meaning that there is sufficient evidence that processed meat intake increases cancer risk.

[A plate of fried bacon]
A high intake of processed meat is associated with a greater risk of colorectal cancer, according to the WHO.

To reach these conclusions, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Working Group reviewed more than 800 studies assessing the effects of red and processed meats on various types of cancer.

They found that each 50-gram portion of processed meat – which primarily includes pork or beef – consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.

The IARC also uncovered evidence of a link between red meat intake and increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

It is thought that cooking red meats at high temperatures – through frying or barbecuing, for example – is what contributes to an increased cancer risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute – a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – cooking meats at high temperatures can lead to the production of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are chemicals that have been shown to increase cancer risk in animal models.

However, the report from WHO concluded that the role of HCAs and PAHs in human cancer risk is not fully understood, and from their review, there was not enough data to determine whether the way meat is cooked influences cancer risk.

Kidney failure

Kidney failure – whereby the kidneys are no longer able to filter waste products and water from the blood – is estimated to affect more than 661,000 people in the U.S.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are among the most common causes of kidney failure, but in July 2016, one study suggested that red meat intake might be a risk factor.

Published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the study reported a dose-dependent link between red meat consumption and risk of kidney failure. For example, participants who were in the highest 25 percent of red meat intake were found to have a 40 percent increased risk of kidney failure, compared with those in the lowest 25 percent.

“Our findings suggest that these individuals can still maintain protein intake but consider switching to plant-based sources; however, if they still choose to eat meat, fish/shellfish and poultry are better alternatives to red meat,” says study co-author Dr. Woon-Puay Koh, of the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.

Heart disease

Heart disease remains the number one killer in the U.S., responsible for the deaths of around 610,000 people in the country every year.

An unhealthful diet, high in saturated fat and cholesterol, is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. A number of studies have suggested that red meat falls into that category, raising the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions.

[Red meat in the shape of a heart]
Some studies have associated red meat consumption with heart disease.

A 2014 study of more than 37,000 men from Sweden, for example, found that men who consumed more than 75 grams of processed red meat per day were at 1.28 times greater risk of heart failure than those who consumed under 25 grams daily.

Another study, published in 2013, reported an association between red meat intake and increased risk of heart disease, but this link was not attributed to the high saturated fat and cholesterol content of red meat.

The researchers, from Columbia University in New York, found that gut bacteria digest a compound in red meat called L-carnitine, converting it into a compound called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO).

In mice, the researchers found that TMAO led to the development of atherosclerosis – a condition characterized by the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Although there are numerous studies linking red meat intake to poor heart health, other research challenges this association.

A recent study by researchers from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, for example, found that eating 3 ounces of red meat three times weekly did not lead to an increase in risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a condition whereby inflammation occurs in one or more of the sacs that line the wall of the colon, which is called diverticula.

This inflammation can lead to a number of severe complications, including abscesses, perforation of the colon, and peritonitis (infection and swelling of the lining of the abdomen).

While the specific causes of diverticulitis are unclear, it has been suggested that a high-fiber diet can raise the risk of developing the condition.

Earlier this month, a study published in the journal Gut suggested that eating high amounts of red meat may also increase the likelihood of developing diverticulitis.

Compared with men who reported eating low quantities of red meat, those who reported eating the highest quantities were found to have a 58 percent greater risk of developing diverticulitis.

The risk was strongest with a high intake of unprocessed red meat, the researchers found.

How much red meat should we eat?

Despite overwhelming evidence of the potential health risks of red meat intake, it is important to note that red meat is full of nutrients.

As an example, a 100-gram portion of raw ground beef contains around 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-3 and 32 percent of the recommended daily allowance of zinc.

Red meat is also high in heme-iron – which is absorbed better than plant-derived iron – vitamin B-6, selenium, and other vitamins and minerals.

Still, based on the evidence to date, public health guidelines recommend limiting red meat consumption.

The American Institute for Cancer Research, for example, recommend eating no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meats each week to reduce cancer risk, while processed meats should be avoided completely.

However, while the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting back on red meat intake, they do not specify a daily limit.

According to Dr. Christopher Wild, director of the IARC, the 2015 report linking red meat intake to increased cancer risk supports public health recommendations to limit the consumption of red meat.

However, he notes that red meat has nutritional value and that this should be considered in future research “in order to balance the risks and benefits of eating red meat and processed meat and to provide the best possible dietary recommendations.”