The Truth: Red meat is relatively high in saturated fat, and as a result, it gets a bad rap. The most important point is to distinguish between processed and unprocessed products. Processed meats have similar contents of saturated fat and cholesterol as unprocessed meat but four times as much sodium and 50 percent more nitrates and nitrites. The sodium can increase blood pressure, while the nitrates may promote atherosclerosis and diabetes.
In general, limit all red meats because of their high saturated fat content and try to avoid processed red meats. An occasional meal that contains a reasonable quantity of unprocessed red meat (a 6- to 8-ounce steak, not a 22-ounce rib eye) is unlikely to cause harm.