Despite the fact that humans have been eating it throughout evolution, many people believe that it can cause harm.
Red meat contains numerous vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthful, balanced diet. In recent years, however, its reputation has been severely blemished, with studies suggesting that red meat intake can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. But is it really that bad for us? We investigate.
Red meat is defined as any meat that comes from mammalian muscle. This includes beef, lamb, pork, goat, veal, and mutton.
For many households, red meat isconsidered a food staple, with some of us consuming beef, lamb, and pork indifferent variations on a daily basis.
What is read meat ?
Commonly, especially in gastronomy, red meat or dark meat is red when raw and dark in color when cooked, in contrast to white meat, which is pale in color before and after cooking. This definition only refers to flesh from mammals or fowl.
In nutritional science, red meat is defined as any meat that has more myoglobin than white meat, white meat being defined as non-dark meat from chicken(excluding leg or thigh), or fish. Some meat, such as pork, is red meat using the nutritional definition, and white meat using the common definition.
According to the USDA, all meats obtained from mammals (regardless of cut or age) are red meats because they contain more myoglobin than white meat like chicken or fish.
The culinary definition has many rules and exceptions. Generally meat from mammals (for example cattle, horse meat, bull meat) and meat from hunting (wildboars, deer, pigeons, partridges, quail and pheasant) excluding fish and insects are considered red meat. Although poultry is usually considered white,duck and goose are red. For some animals the culinary definition of red meat differs by cut, and sometimes by the age of the animal is when it was slaughtered. Pork is considered red if the animal is adult, but white if young(e.g. suckling pig). The same applies to young lamb and veal. Game is sometimes put in a separate category altogether. (French: viandes noires —"dark meats".)
Pork is considered white under the culinary definition, but red in nutritional studies. The National Pork Board has positioned it as "Pork. The Other White Meat",profiting from the ambiguity to suggest that pork has the nutritional properties of white meat,which is considered more healthful.
Nutritional values of red meat
Red meat is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.It is loaded with vitamins,minerals, antioxidants and various other nutrients that can have profound effects on health.
A 100 gram (3.5 ounces) portion of raw ground beef (10% fat) contains:
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 25% of the RDA.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): 37% of the RDA (this vitamin is unattainable from plant foods).
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 18% of the RDA.
Iron: 12% of the RDA (This is high quality heme-iron, which is absorbed much better than iron from plants).
Zinc: 32% of the RDA.
Selenium: 24% of the RDA.
Then there are plenty of other vitamins and minerals in there too, in smaller amounts.
This comes with a calorie count of176, with 20 grams of quality animal protein and 10 grams of fat.
Red meat is also rich in important nutrients like Creatine and Carnosine. Non-meat eaters are often deficient in these nutrients, which can have negative effects on various aspects of health,including muscle and brain function.
Grass-fed beef is even more nutritious than grain-fed, containing plenty of heart healthy Omega-3s, the fatty acid CLA, along with more Vitamins A and E.
Bottom Line: Red meat is very nutritious, especially if it comes from animals that have been naturally fed and raised. It’s a great source of protein, iron, B12, Zinc, Creatine and various other nutrients.
Today’s meat isn’t what it used to be
Humans have been eating meat throughout evolution and our digestive systems are well equipped to handle it.
Traditional populations like the Inuit and Masai have eaten lots of meat, much more than the average Westerner, but remained in excellent health.
However, the meat we eat today is vastly different from the meat our ancestors ate. Back in the day, animals roamed free and ate grass, insects or whatever was natural to them.
Picture a wild cow on a field 10.000years ago, roaming free and chewing on grass and various other edible plants.
The meat from this animal is completely different from the meat derived from a cow that was born and raised in a factory and fed grain-based feed. It may also have received growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics.
Today, some of our meat products go through even more processing after the animals are slaughtered… they are smoked, cured, then treated with nitrates, preservatives and various chemicals.
Therefore, it is very important to distinguish between the different types of meat:
Processed meat: These products are usually from conventionally raised cows,then go through various processing methods. Examples include sausages and bacon.
Conventional red meat: Conventional red meats are fairly unprocessed, but the cows are usually factory farmed. Meats that are red when raw are defined as “red”meats. Includes lamb, beef, pork and some others.
White meat: Meats that are white when cooked are defined as “white”meats. Includes meat from poultry like chicken and turkey.
Grass-Fed, Organic meat: This meat comes from animals that have been naturally fed and raised organically, without drugs and hormones. They also don’t have any artificial chemicals added to them.
When examining the health effects of meat, it’s important to realize that not all meat is created equal.
The studies on meat, especially the ones performed in the U.S., are mostly examining meat from factory farmed animals that have been fed grain-based feeds.
Bottom Line: It is important to make the distinction between different kinds of meat. For example, grass-fed and organic meat is very different from factory-farmed, processed meat.
A shift toward plant-based foods
Last year, the average person in the United States is estimated to have consumed around 106.6 pounds of red meat.Although this might appear a high intake, it is a significant reduction from the average 145.8 pounds consumed per capita in 1970.
Over the past 10 years alone, red meat consumption has fallen by around 10 pounds per person, with 2014 seeing the lowest intake of red meat since 1960, at just 101.7 pounds per person.
But why are so many of us cutting down on red meat?
According to a 2016 Harris Poll,approximately 8 million adults in the U.S. are vegetarian or vegan, with concerns about animal welfare being the driving factor.