Health Issues

Venison as part of a healthy diet

Coronary Heart Disease

Dietary modification is important for the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease1. In particular, it is important to consume a diet low in fat, and especially SFA, in order to lower blood levels of total and LDL cholesterol16,17.

A review of studies on meat consumption and CHD risk found substantial evidence that lean meat does not raise blood total and LDL cholesterol levels, as long as the overall diet is low in fat and SFA18. Venison is very low in fat and SFA, so is an ideal meat for those on a cholesterol-lowering diet.

Concerns that the iron in meat may increase oxidative stress are unfounded. A recent study, which investigated the effects of lean red meat consumption on markers of oxidative stress and inflammation found no elevation among the meat-eaters19.

For those at high risk of cardiovascular disease, the New Zealand Heart Foundation recommends that small or moderate servings of lean meat can be included as part of a normal varied diet, providing the diet is balanced with large servings of vegetables20.


Obesity in New Zealand is a significant problem, with one adult in three overweight and a further one in four obese. Among children, one in five is overweight and a further one in twelve is obese21.

Venison is low in fat and can, therefore, be a useful part of a weight-reducing diet. It is also a good source of protein. Recent evidence suggests that protein may be beneficial during weight loss, promoting satiety, suppressing food intake, maintaining lean body mass, and stimulating metabolic and physiological responses involved in food intake regulation22.

Red Meat and Cancer

Some studies have suggested a link between high intakes of red and processed meat and colorectal cancer23. However, there are multiple causes of cancer and separating the effects of individual foods is extremely complicated24.

The recent World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)25 report has recommended that to reduce risk of cancer it is important to maintain a healthy body weight, be physically active as part of every day life and to limit consumption of high energy foods. We should also eat at least five servings a day of non-starchy fruits and vegetables, and should consume unprocessed cereals and pulses with every meal. For those who eat red meat, an intake of up to 500g per week is recommended.

Consuming moderate amounts of lean venison as part of a healthy diet, alongside lots of vegetables and unprocessed cereals will not increase the risk of colorectal cancer.


Note: Like other meat, venison is a potential source of toxoplasmosis, which can be harmful to unborn babies and those with weakened immune systems. Like other meat, venison should therefore not be eaten raw or under-cooked during pregnancy or by people with weakened immune systems.


The healthy choice for all ages

As people get older, nutrient dense foods become more important in the diet.  Venison can make a useful contribution to intakes of these vitamins.