Your elderly relatives may claim that they eat red meat, eggs and butter every day, dismissing popular concerns that these foods are bad for your health. A healthy diet promotes balance, and there's no such thing as a forbidden food. You can still enjoy red meat, butter and eggs in your diet by balancing these foods with other, healthier fats and proteins.
Red meat is a good source of protein and iron, but it’s also high in saturated fats, dangerous fats that raise your blood cholesterol levels. A study published in 2009 by the “Journal of the American Medical Association” studied red meat consumption and death rates of 500,000 people. The study concluded that people with the highest intake of red meat also had the highest risk of death from heart disease and cancer. In 2013, "JAMA Internal Medicine” published the results of a four-year study that compared red meat intake to diabetes risk. The study found that women who increased their intake of red meat during the four-year period were more likely to develop risk factors for diabetes than women who did not. You don't have to eliminate red meat from your diet, but eat it less frequently and choose leaner options, like eye of round or tenderloin, and trim away any visible fat.
Butter adds flavor to many desserts and casserole recipes, but 1 tablespoon of butter contains 100 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat, 32 percent of the daily recommended saturated fat limit for a 2,000-calorie diet. You don't have to completely cut butter out of your diet, but you can reduce your intake by using healthier substitutes. Use olive or canola oils for side dishes, stir-fries and casseroles, because these oils are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Margarine isn’t necessarily a healthy substitute for butter, because some brands contain trans fats, processed fats that raise your blood cholesterol. If a food label lists "partially hydrogenated oil" on the ingredient list, it contains trans fats.
A low-fat protein source, one large egg provides 72 calories, 6 grams of protein, virtually no fat and a dose of vitamin D, a necessary nutrient for calcium absorption. Eggs often get a bad rap, because the yolk of one egg contains more than half of your recommended daily cholesterol intake. You can still enjoy eggs, but the National Institutes of Health recommends eating no more than four egg yolks per week. If you have risk factors for heart disease, use egg whites in your recipes. Egg whites have no cholesterol and contain only 17 calories per serving.
If you love the taste of red meat, butter and eggs, enjoy these foods in moderation. When you’re craving a thick and juicy burger, try a bison burger. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics considers bison meat a healthier red meat, because it contains half the saturated fat and cholesterol of ground beef. If you enjoy the taste of real butter on your morning toast, limit your serving size to 1 teaspoon, which contains 36 calories and 2.5 grams of saturated fat. For a tasty, healthy egg dish on a lazy Sunday morning, make an egg white frittata with chopped peppers, mushrooms, spinach, milk, low-fat cheese and your favorite herbs and spices.
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Meat Intake and Mortality
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Red Meat Linked to Increased Diabetes Risk
- Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine: Changes in Red Meat Consumption and Subsequent Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: A Healthier Red Meat
- USDA Data Nutrient Laboratory: Butter, Salted
- MayoClinic.com: Butter vs. Margarine: Which Is Better for My Heart?
- USDA Nutrient Database: Natreon Canola, High Stability, Non Trans, High Oleic (70%)
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Egg, Whole, Raw, Fresh
- Medline Plus: Managing Your Weight With Healthy Eating
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Egg, White, Raw, Fresh
Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.