Insufficient red meat can lead to depression, anxiety in women
CONSUMPTION of an optimum amount of lean red meat may be good for mental health, Australian researchers suggest after a study in more than 1000 women.
While high consumption of red meat has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease and overall mortality (MO, 23 March), researchers from Deakin University and Barwon Health show that insufficient intake of red meat – as well as too much – is linked to depression and anxiety.
The researchers, led by Associate Professor Felice Jacka from the Barwon Psychiatric Research Unit at Geelong Hospital, hypothesised red meat might be bad for mental health.
But in the study, women eating less than three to four serves a week of red meat were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those eating the recommended amount, and the effect remained when adjusted for other factors such as physical activity, smoking and BMI.
“Interestingly there was no relationship between other forms of protein – such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins – and mental health,” Professor Jacka said in a media statement.
The recommended serve of beef or lamb under Australian dietary guidelines of 2003 was 65 to 100g, three to four times per week, so researchers categorised low consumption as under 28g/day and high consumption as more than 57g per day.
Among the women in the study, who were aged 20 to 93 years, 60 had a current major depressive disorder or dysthymia and 80 had an anxiety disorder.
The study was funded by the NHMRC and an unrestricted educational grant from Eli Lilly.
Psychother Psychosom 2012; 81:196-98