Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nutrition Science

Committee Chair

Wayne W. Campbell

Committee Member 1

Dennis A. Savaiano

Committee Member 2

A.J. Schwichtenberg

Committee Member 3

Douglas Paddon-Jones


Red meat consumption is recognized to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, however, the totality of the evidence does not support this. The recommendations to limit red meat consumption, such as in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ omnivorous healthy eating patterns, are largely based on data from observational cohort studies which assess red meat intake in the context of a Western-style eating pattern. In these studies, “red meat” is often ill-defined and grouped with processed meat as one intake category leading to inconsistent associations between red meat intake and cardiometabolic disease risk. Unprocessed red meat, independent of processed meats, is consistently weakly or not associated with cardiometabolic disease development and related-mortality. In agreement, the compilation of randomized controlled trial data in this dissertation shows that red meat consumption, mainly unprocessed beef and pork, has no negative effect on cardiovascular disease risk factors. The results of the randomized crossover controlled trial included in this dissertation shows that the inclusion of lean unprocessed red meat in a Mediterranean-style eating pattern does not hinder improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors induced by consuming the eating pattern. However, adopting a Mediterranean-style eating pattern while lowering red meat intake may inhibit potential reductions in atherosclerotic-promoting lipids and lipoproteins and modest short-term improvements in individuals’ vitality level to accomplish necessary daily tasks. Overall, on average, U.S. residents are consuming red meat amounts similar to what is recommended by governing agencies. U.S. residents can consume a Mediterranean-style eating pattern with typical amounts of lean unprocessed red meat to improve cardiometabolic disease risk factors and indexes of personal well-being. Future guidance regarding meat intake should provide recommendations specific not only to source and amount of meat consumed but degree of meat processing and overall eating pattern quality.