Red meat: good or bad?
Protein-rich, but also high in saturated fat, red meat should be eaten sparingly.
Red meat, which includes beef, lamb, veal, and pork, is an excellent source of protein in the diet. On the other hand, it is also a major source of unhealthy saturated fat (see Good fats, bad fats).
It is recommended that you eat at least two servings per day from the protein group, which includes red meat. Many people, however, eat a great deal more meat than this. Some studies show that people who eat large quantities of red meat on a daily basis have a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease than those who eat it less often.
The relationship between red meat and cardiovascular disease is believed to be due to the high saturated fat and cholesterol content of these meats. There is also evidence to suggest that a high intake of red meat may increase your risk of colon cancer. Not surprisingly, people who replace red meat with fish and chicken have been found to have lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. For these reasons, it's a good idea to choose to eat lower fat sources of protein.
Other types of meats
Game, such as venison, wild boar, rabbit, and, more recently, buffalo, has meat that is rich and full of flavour. Because these animals get more exercise, their meat is leaner and lower in fat than beef, lamb, and pork, and thus also lower in calories.
Offal - kidneys, liver, tongue, sweetbreads, trotters, and so on - are nutritious meats, being a good source of many of the B vitamins as well as vitamins A and D, and the minerals copper, iron, and zinc. As liver can tend to accumulate chemical residues from the animal, we suggest that you eat only the liver of young animals, such as calves and lambs.
You should try to avoid eating too many preserved and processed meats, such as bacon, salami, pancetta, sausages, ham and gammon because they often contain a lot of salt as well as being high in saturated fat. Many cured meats also contain high levels of preservatives.
What is a serving?
- 100g (3 ½ oz) lean minced beef
- 100g (3 ½ oz) pork loin
- 100g (3 ½ oz) beef topside
- 100g (3 ½ oz) fillet steak
- 100g (3 ½ oz) sirloin steak
- 100g (3 ½ oz) flank steak
- 100g (3 ½ oz) venison
Healthy ways with red meat
- Trim off all visible fat from the meat, place it on a rack, then grill or roast it. Excess fat will drip down into the pan and can be discarded.
- Use only a light spray or brush of oil in a non-stick frying pan.
- Try stir-fried dishes where a small amount of meat, cut up into tiny strips, goes a long way mixed in with lots of vegetables.
- Cut down on portion sizes of meat and fill up instead with extra helpings of vegetables and salads.
- When eating out, order small portions or share larger ones.
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