Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences

Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences
Open Access

ISSN: 2155-9600



The Role of Meat in a Healthful Dietary Pattern: Evidence from Menu Modeling

Betsy Hornick and Neva Cochran

Meat is an integral part of America’s food culture, contributing high quality protein and essential nutrients, including iron, zinc, B vitamins, selenium, choline, and potassium. While meat consumption has increased in the US since the early 1900s, recent data suggests that it has peaked and consumption is falling. Dietary intake studies indicate that intake of protein foods is below recommended amounts for about 45% of Americans. Dietary guidance, beginning with the release of the first edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980, has consistently recommended meat that is lean. Americans currently eat an average of 3.9 ounces of meat, poultry and cured meat per day (2 years and older), which falls within the recommended daily intake levels of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Pattern. The recent Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) described dietary patterns associated with positive health outcomes for the US. population as “lower in red and processed meat,” however, there is no target reduction identified for meat. Menu models developed for this paper demonstrate that consumers can achieve healthful dietary patterns eating a variety of foods including meat, poultry, and processed meats. These menus provide adequate intakes of nutrients of concern and also meet current recommended limits for energy and over consumed nutrients (saturated fat, sodium). Recognizing that many Americans enjoy red and processed meats, recommendations that limit or restrict this protein-and nutrient-rich food may threaten the acceptance and implementation of future Dietary Guidelines. Continued promotion and education pertaining to lean meats has the potential to motivate behavior change and increase success in achieving overall healthful dietary patterns.