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Can Red Meat Improve Your Mood?

Numerous studies have warned about the dangers of eating red meat - high cholesterol, obesity and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Now a study from researchers at Deakin University in Australia is providing a different perspective.

Published online ahead of print on March 17, 2012, in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, this study suggests that eating the recommended amount of lean red meat could actually improve women's moods.

The researchers examined the diets and other lifestyle factors of women and determined that, regardless of physical activity, smoking, weight, and age, three to four small (palm-sized) servings of lean red meat weekly resulted in better mental health. They noted that women consuming less than the recommended amount of meat were twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorders.

The Australian government recommends 2.3-3.5 ounces of lean red meat per week, while the British government recommends no more than 2.5 ounces per week. The researchers also noted that Australian cattle eat mostly grass feed, which results in high levels of omega-3s in Australian meat. Previous studies have shown that omega-3s can have an effect on mood and mental health.

This study is not, however, permission to go out and eat as much steak and hamburger as possible. The researchers were quick to caution that eating too much meat or eating only fatty red meats could contribute to negative health problems.

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