Recommendations for meat consumption in the aspect of prevention of selected diet-related diseases

Meat is an important component of the human diet, therefore its presence is included in the Pyramid of Healthy Nutrition and Physical Activity dedicated to children, adults and the elderly[1]. This article presents specific recommendations regarding the consumption of selected types of meat in the aspect of prevention and nutritional therapy in diet-related diseases.

In Polish and world literature, the authors of publications on the results of research regarding the relationship between meat consumption and human health do not refer to specific types of meat, but to red meat, processed meat and white meat. According to Sajór from the National Centre for Nutrition Education (2018), red meat includes meat from slaughter animals: pork, beef, veal, lamb, horse, goat, game, and its characteristic feature is the high content of the so-called haem iron. Processed meat is defined as that which has undergone processing through heat treatment (extended frying, traditional grilling, smoking), salting, curing, pickling, fermenting (maturing) or other processes intended to extend its shelf life[2]. Poultry is classified as white meat, and the species whose food consumption is most often assessed in terms of human health are turkey and chicken.

According to the analysis presented by ING Bank Śląski experts based on data from the Central Statistical Office and IAFE-NRI, Poles eat too much meat[3]. In 2018, a statistical Pole ate 6.38 kg of meat, i.e. 76.5 kg per year. This means that the average daily consumption of meat was around 213 g, much more than experts from the Food and Nutrition Institute recommend.

In January 2020, Cocking et al. published a review of European recommendations for meat consumption by country. In most European countries, experts recommend moderate consumption of meat with a low fat content and, due to the need to reduce the supply of saturated fatty acids (SFA), limiting the consumption of the so-called red meat (beef, pork). Due to the high sodium content in meat products, including cold meats, it is also advantageous to limit their consumption. These guidelines are consistent with the recommendations of The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)[4]and the Polish 10 principles of healthy eating published by Jarosz et al. from the National Centre for Nutrition Education[5].The differences in Polish recommendations for meat consumption concern particular types of meat, portion sizes and culinary processing techniques, and vary depending on the person’s age, gender, physiological condition and well-being[6].

Cocking et al. have also pointed out that the nutritional value of meat is greatly influenced by the conditions of poultry, cattle and pig farming, e.g. the fodder that animals get. They have also indicated the huge role of the agricultural industry in providing the market with raw material of nutritional value that enables consumers to prevent diet-related diseases. 100 g of skinless turkey breast provides only 84 kcal, 0.7 g of fat and just 0.22 g of saturated fatty acids, therefore turkey meat, alongside chicken, is a type of meat recommended by Białkowska for body weight reduction[7]. Due to the low SFA content, turkey and chicken are used in diets dedicated to people diagnosed with atherosclerotic diseases and in people with dyslipidaemia, because limiting the supply of saturated fatty acids with food helps maintain proper cholesterol concentration in blood plasma[8].

The consumption of white meat is recommended in the Mediterranean, DASH and Nordic Diet,which are used both in the prevention and treatment of, e.g. type 2 diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemia[9],[10].

Summary: One of the important elements of the diet is choosing the right type of meat. In this context, turkey meat is particularly worthy of attention. Selected features of turkey meat, confirmed by nutritional and health claims, are presented in Table 1.

nutrition claimhealth claim
low in fat and saturated fatty acidsLimiting the consumption of saturated fatty acids helps maintain the proper blood cholesterol level
source of vitamin D.Vitamin D helps in the proper functioning of the immune system
source of zincZinc helps protect cells against oxidative stress
source of vitamin B6 and B12Vitamins B6 and B12 help maintain the proper metabolism of homocysteine

“As practice shows, the diabetes, dyslipidaemia, arterial hypertension or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients’ compliance with nutritional guidelines is not satisfactory. The dietary regime is difficult to maintain, incl. due to the monotony of the menu, which leads to patient’s weariness and ultimately resignation from changing the model of nutrition to one that promotes health. Hence, it is so important to propose a varied and tasty menu. In my opinion, it is worth paying special attention to turkey here, which is an interesting variation compared to other recommended types of meat. Turkey meat seasoned with herbs, served from the oven or from a grill pan, can be a great idea for a dinner and variety in the diet that should always accompany our patient”- Joanna Neuhoff-Murawska Phd Eng., project expert in “Turkey from Europe – Under the Wings of Quality” project.

[1]National Centre for Nutrition Education – Food and Nutrition Institute,

[2]Sajór I. Spożycie Mięsa, a ryzyko nowotworów., published 19.02.2018.

[3]Reportby ING Bank Śląski experts based on data from the Central Statistical Office (GUS) and IAFE-NRI (IERiGŻ-PIB)2019r.

[4]Cocking C et al. The role of meat in the European diet: current state of knowledge on dietary recommendations, intakes and contribution to Energy and nutrient intakes and status. Nutrition Research Reviews 2020

[5]Jarosz et al. Piramida zdrowego żywienia i aktywności fizycznej dla osób dorosłych, IŻŻ.

[6]Turlejska H. Pelzner U., Szponar Ł., Komecka-Matyjek E. Zasady racjonalnego żywienia, zalecane racje pokarmowe dla wybranych grup ludności w zakładach żywienia zbiorowego. Ośrodek Doradztwa i Doskonalenia Kadr Sp. z.o.o. Gdańsk 2006.

[7]Białkowska M. Otyłość in: Praktyczny Podręcznik Dietetyki pod redakcją Jarosz M. Instytut Żywności i Żywienia 2010, Warszawa.

[8]Łysiak-Szydłowska W. i wsp. Żywienie kliniczne, wybrane zagadnienia. Wydawnictwo Via Medica, Gdańsk, 2000.

[9]Galbete C., Kröger J., Jannasch F., Iqbal K., Schwingshackl L., Schwedhelm C., Weikert C., Boeing H., Schulze M.B. Nordic diet, Mediterranean diet, and the risk of chronic diseases: the EPIC-Potsdam study. C Medicine (2018) 16:99 doi: 10.1186/s12916-018-1082-y

[10]Liday i Kirkpatrick. Optimal Dietary Strategies for Prevention of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease in Diabetes: Evidence and Recommendations. Curr Cardiol Rep. 2019 Oct 17;21(11):132. doi: 10.1007/s11886-019-1232-7