Meat, The Facts

meat

One way or another, your body has to have protein, iron, calcium, enzymes, vitamin B12 and amino acids every day. Even when you find these, your body can’t always utilize them, but when found in meat, they are highly digestible.

It’s true that like anything else, over indulgence can throw our diet out of balance if we go overboard. However, studies have shown that diets with meat are not only okay, they are especially important. Especially for women as many young women are at risk of anemia because they do not get enough iron in their diet. Diets with meat are also important for people over the age of 30 as involuntary loss of muscle (sarcopenia) and bone mass (osteoporosis) are chronic diseases even in developed countries. Research has shown that bone loss may start as early as 30 and loss of skeletal muscle occurs at the rate of 3 to 8 percent per decade after the age of 30.

The fact is meat is the most naturally occurring, well balanced and easily obtained and digested package of proteins, essential acids, iron and vitamin B12 source available according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Somehow you must find and consume all of the nutrients that meat provides so you can stay healthy.

Protein

Protein is a vital part of any healthy diet and is found throughout the human body in all types of cells. It is particularly important for muscle growth. Red meats such as beef, pork and lamb are rich sources of protein.

3.5 oz. Serving

Protein Level

Top Round Beef Steak

23g

Pork Chop

19g

Lamb Chop

18g

Iron

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin and is key to a healthy immune system. Without meat, it is difficult to get the recommended amount of iron in your diet. Iron deficiency and anemia are common problems for vegetarians. This is not just because meat is a richer source of iron than other foods, but because the iron in red meat is absorbed much more efficiently than from plant foods.

Zinc

Red meat is the richest source of zinc in your diet. Zinc works with the body’s enzymes to break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins as well as aiding tissue growth and repair.

Vitamin B12

Meat contains high amounts of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found in every cell in the body because of its critical role in many bodily chemicals. This vitamin is not present in plant foods, but is essential to human nutrition.

Fats

Saturated fats are often equated with animal fats, but meat contains more monosaturates than saturated fatty acids. Lean cuts of meat can help lower cholesterol levels. Most ground meat products have a higher fat content than whole cuts of meat.

Meat contributes iron, proteins, zinc and vitamins to a balanced diet. According to the federal government’s MyPlate, which has replaced the food pyramid, the amount of meat you need depends on many factors, including age, sex and physical activity. However, people should follow some basic guidelines. Most adult men should eat between 5.5 and 6.5 oz. of meat daily, while adult women require slightly less, between 5 and 5.5 oz. daily. To limit the negative effects of saturated animal fats, choose lean cuts. Also consider your preparation method – to lower the fat content roast or grill so the fat drains instead of frying in additional fat.

Sources:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

MyPlate

American Society of Hematology

National Osteoporosis Foundation

 

–Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.

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