1 February 2012
Red Meat Can Be Healthy
Posted by Wellness under: Nutrition .
Red meat has suffered from a lot of bad press in the last couple of decades. Few health “experts” can talk about weight loss or cardiac health without harping on the dangers of red meat: the fat, the calories, the cholesterol. But is the occasional pot roast really that lethal? New research suggests it isn’t–it’s just about choosing the right kind and proper preparation.
What’s in a steak?
All meats, whether red or white, contain a number of important nutrients. These include Vitamin B, protein, and iron. In fact, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends about three servings of red meat per week to get the recommended dose of these nutrients. The catch is that red meat contains a high amount of less desirable stuff, such as saturated fat. The problem isn’t so much the meat itself but how it’s made; many commercial meats come from grain-fed animals, which have higher amounts of body fat because of their diets. That extra fat, of course, makes it to the groceries and onto our plates.
When is it too much?
There’s no consensus on how much red meat is too much, mostly because people have different dietary needs. Some of us need more protein and others could do with a little less fat. The recommended serving mentioned above is just a guideline; if you’re in good health and have no special dietary needs, it’s a good figure to stick to. The problem is that serving sizes seldom conform to these figures. The ideal 2.5-oz serving of steak is the size of a deck of cards, which is less than half the slab of beef you get at a restaurant. So the trick is not to count how many times you eat red meat, but how much you have in a sitting.
Does it make the cut?
Another thing to look out for is the cut of meat. Some cuts naturally have more fat than others, but the difference is not always visible. The leanest cuts are usually the inside round roast, strip loin, and sirloin steak. Tenderloin is also good as long as the visible fat is trimmed off. These cuts can be more expensive, but remember, ideal serving sizes are smaller, so if you stick to those, you can stretch $20 of meat over several healthy meals.
One last trick is to serve your red meat with vegetables. This doesn’t just balance out your meal, but also fills you up faster. Once you’re used to better cuts and smaller helpings, you’ll find that it’s easier to satisfy those meat cravings, not to mention it’s more guilt-free.
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