For those eager to complement their burgers, ketchup or barbecue sauce may be a safer bet than pomegranate, suggests a new study by the Meat in the Middle Foundation.
According to the MIMF report, ground beef that was infused with pomegranate juice to add a pinker, bloodier "feel" elevated cancer rates and heart disease among those who consumed it regularly, as compared to those who did not consume any fruit-infused meat.
"It's concerning," said MIMF founder and president, Joe Kelly. "More research needs to be done, of course, but at this point we're recommending that people stick with straight meat."
Kelly further cautioned, "Pomegranates on their own could be relatively benign, but they're also very carb-heavy. If you're worried, we'd recommend avoiding those, too."
When pressed as to whether it could have been the ground beef itself, rather than the added pomegranate juice, that resulted in the elevated health risks, Kelly declined to speculate, explaining that red meat has seldom been the focus of nutrition research because it is so clearly essential to muscle and bone health. He reminded Americans, too, "Beef - it's what's for dinner."
With regard to safer burger dressings, Kelly noted that no peer-reviewed studies have convincingly shown that adding ketchup to hamburgers increases health risks - and suggested, moreover, that that tasty condiment could provide a handy way for people to boost their vegetable intake.
"But the bottom line," he emphasized, "is that meat should remain in the middle, serving as the center of every meal. The pomegranate study proved once again that meat is fantastic on its own. Don't mess with a good thing, is the takeaway."