Meat is a highly debated food. On the one hand, many people avoid or have become vegetarians or vegans. On the other hand, meat forms a staple food for people residing in lands where agriculture is not an option or where farming is not propitious owing to the climatic conditions. However, an interesting fact remains that about 70% of India’s population consumes meat, albeit not all kinds of meat. In fact, meat is preferred by many for being a rich source of vitamins and minerals that are scarcely found in other foods. Meat is also a mandatory food in certain dietary plans as they offer a bounteous source of protein to the human body.
On the contrary, a few groups of people perceive consuming meat as undesirable or unnecessary. There are strong proponents and opponents on either side of the subject, with their own varied reasons for disagreeing. However, despite the disagreements, we feel that certain nutritional facts about meat cannot be ignored as it provides us with a wide range of essential nutrients. So, to better understand meat, let’s delve into the subject.
To begin with, let’s understand which are the major kinds of meat and what they offer:
- Red meat, which is extracted from mammals specifically, is abundant with the iron-rich protein myoglobin. The animal sources are beef, pork, lamb, veal (calves), goat, and hunted flesh of bison, elk, and deer.
- White meat is lighter in hue in comparison to red meat and is derived from birds. Such type of meat is obtained from chicken, duck, turkey, goose, and certain wild birds like quail and pheasant.
- Processed meat, which is rather a modified version of both red and white meat through curing, smoking, salting, drying, or other processes of preservation that also enhances its flavour. Processed meat includes hot dogs, sausage, bacon, as well as meats such as bologna, salami, and pastrami.
Now that we’ve understood the different kinds, let’s deep dive into nutritional facts about meat. Without understanding what meat provides us with we cannot possibly understand why it has been part of many peoples’ food habits for generations.
Six nutritional facts you must know:
Protein and amino acids
Meat is a wellspring of high-quality protein that contains all essential amino acids required for optimal health. Amino acids contribute to building muscles, strengthening the body’s immune system, and helps in maintaining the metabolism of the human body. Since we naturally can’t produce all the essential amino acids, it is critical to consume an adequate amount of meat in our diet.
Meat’s protein deliverance per serving (25 grams per 3 ounces) is proportionately higher than dairy (8 grams per cup), eggs (6 grams each), legumes (12 grams per ¾ cup), vegetables or nuts (2 to 5 grams per serving). Protein ensures the production of enzymes and hormones, and acts as the foundation for healthy bones, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Meat gives Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 maintains the brain and nervous system’s functioning and metabolism while contributing to high energy levels. Here are few other sources of B12, however, meat is known to possess B12 that is more easily absorbable by the body.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
We all shy away from pork, but pork, for that matter, is a significant resource of Thiamin (Vitamin B1). Thiamin plays an important role in the metabolism of glucose and also improves cardiac health.
Zinc and selenium
Meat also encapsulates a decent amount of zinc and selenium that are directly responsible for elevating the immune system which helps combat oxidative stress in the body and optimises the production of hormones.
Consuming meat helps in maintaining and losing weight too. Meat gives a feeling of fullness for a longer time, and thus curbs hunger and satisfies food cravings.
The heme iron found in meat is absorbed and utilized by the body easily. Iron deficiency can be avoided with adequate consumption of meat. Beef is a type of meat that comprises compounds that are potentially beneficial for the human body. These compounds include conjugated linoleic acid, creatine, and glutathione. We all know the wonders that glutathione does to the skin. Venison or deer’s meat, on the other hand, is abundant in minerals and vitamins. So anyone, who is calorie-conscious, can consume venison instead of beef.
Processed meats like sausage, hot dogs, and deli meats, are also good sources of nutrients and are easy-to-make, on-the-go grubs, ideal for a quick meal. However, they should be consumed in moderation due to their salt content.
Now it’s up to you to decide whether you would want to add meat to your daily diet and gain from the nutritional benefits that it has to offer.
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