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Meat on the Mind

Research hints that eating meat may do the brain some good.

Meat in a diet

Though plant-based eating seems to have all the nutrition science momentum, it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to the health effects of eating meat.

After combing through past investigations on the impact that meat-eating has on mental health, researchers presented findings in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. They discovered that, among the 160,257 subjects, there was a trend toward meat-eaters having lower rates of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety than meat-abstainers.

Though the study examined mostly observational research and thus could not prove cause and effect, it may be that the nutrient combination in meats like beef and chicken supports psychological well-being better than a poorly implemented vegetarian or vegan diet. Such a diet may underdeliver choline and other nutrients that are essential to brain health. Some individuals may also turn to veganism and vegetarianism when battling mental health issues like eating disorders. Mental health may need to be emphasized when evaluating the benefits and risks of particular dietary patterns.

See also: Ask the RD: If I Eat Less Meat, Am I Missing Out on Iron?

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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