EATING MEAT IS GOOD FOR YOU – JUST COOK IT RIGHT AND CUT THE FAT

eating-meat1

BY ARMANDA URSELL
The London Times

It might be physiologically possible to live without meat, but eating lean cuts in moderation does have its benefits. It provides us with essential nutrients in particularly easy-to-absorb form and the negative press so often attributed to meat — that it is high in saturated fats and calories — is not necessarily borne out in practice.

On the nutritional plus side: meat is a great food for “high quality” protein. As with other “animal proteins” such as milk, fish and eggs, it provides our bodies with all the essential amino acid building blocks that we require to build and renew all cells in our bodies.

A typical 8oz (200g) lean, grilled rump steak gives us about 58g of protein, more than the 55g and 45g that men and women need each day. You would need to eat 1.1kg of baked beans (just over two and a half big cans) containing 924 calories, or 220g of cheddar (824 calories) to get the same.

Red meat also supplies us with good amounts of vitamin B12, needed for supporting and maintaining nerve growth and health. This is the one nutrient that strict vegetarians who eschew all animal foods must get from either fortified foods or supplements.

Other nutritional virtues include the easily absorbed iron known as “haem” iron. The same steak gives us 7mg of this vital, energy-boosting mineral. While men need 8.7mg a day, a woman’s daily requirement is 14.8mg, which is considerably higher and is an amount that about 40 per cent of women in the UK do not meet, putting them at risk of sub-clinical anaemia — a situation with inherent problems such as poor concentration and elevated levels of stress.

“Non-haem” iron from plant foods such as baked beans, nuts, seeds and dark green, leafy vegetables is less well absorbed than “haem” iron in meat. The absorption of “non-haem” iron is also reduced by the presence of tannins in the diet in tea and phytates, types of plant chemicals found in vegetables like spinach.

The minerals zinc and selenium, both needed for optimal fertility and a strong immune system, are similarly well represented in lean meat and again are easily absorbed.

The fat content of lean cuts of meats has fallen considerably over the last two decades due to modern farming and butchering techniques. While some would say this has happened at the cost of taste, its nutritional advantages are clear. The same 8oz grilled rump steak can provide as little as 12g of fat, considerably less than the 33g in a fairly modest 300g portion of a classic vegetarian dish such as a macaroni cheese.

And of the fat in lean meat, less than half is the cholesterol-boosting saturated type. Of the 12g of fat in the steak, perhaps surprisingly, 6g comes from the heart-friendly monounsatured fat.

Of course, there are downsides to meat in the diet. Although the grilled rump steak gives us 336 calories, opt for a 8oz of grilled lamb chop, which is eaten with the incumbent band of fat, and these soar to 710. The key to including red meat in a healthy way is to choose lean cuts and cook them sensibly.

See Related: DINING

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