Red meat provides a whole spectrum of nourishing nutrients that work not only to promote health but also to prevent certain diseases. What’s more, many of these nutrients are hard to come by for those choose not to eat any meat. But choosing quality meat is the key to reaping these benefits, whilst avoiding the widely reported adverse effects associated with cheap and processed meats. Read on to discover the health benefits of eating red meat and why it’s important to go for quality over convenience!
Good quality red meat is a powerhouse of nutrition and a welcome addition to any carnivorous diet. Here’s our pick of the top five nutrients you’ll gain from including more red meat in your diet.
Protein is made up of individual nutrients called amino acids, 9 of which are essential – meaning we can’t make them ourselves and so must get them from our diet. Red meat provides a ‘complete’ source of protein, as it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
This is important because it means we can meet protein requirements with one food source, compared with having to mix and match foods to obtain each individual amino acid – which is what is recommended with a plant-based diet.
Getting enough: Helps to maintain lean muscle mass, increase satiety, promote weight loss and boost the immune system.
Iron found in red meat is what is known as haem iron, that’s the animal-based form of iron that is easily recognised and better absorbed by the human body. Whilst leafy green veg such as spinach and kale is also packed with iron, this is in the non-haem form which isn’t so readily absorbed or utilised.
It is estimated that almost two thirds of the world’s population are so some extent iron deficient. Consuming more red meat is a great way to boost iron levels and prevent conditions such as iron-deficiency anaemia.
Getting enough: Helps to produce red blood cells, fight fatigue and ensure normal growth and development.
Red meat is a rich source of B vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. But it’s perhaps best known for providing a whopping dose of B12, which is scarcely found in plant-based diets.
As with protein, B Vitamins provided by red meat have a high bioavailability, so we can break them down and use them much more efficiently compared with other food sources.
Getting enough: B12 plays a role in protecting almost every structure in the body, which in turn reduces the risk of things like cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions and even some cancers. It’s also a key player in making new DNA and red blood cells.
Amazingly, we can synthesise our own Vitamin D when skin is exposed to UVB rays from sunlight. However, poor weather, changing seasons that small matter of wearing clothes (!) all inhibit this natural process. So, it’s unlikely most of us get enough sunlight to meet our Vit D requirements.
Vitamin D is extremely hard to come by with a plant-based diet. Aside from mushrooms, it’s virtually impossible to get any plant-based Vitamin D. Whilst red meat doesn’t contain masses, it provides Vitamin D in the active form D3, which – you guessed it – is ready to go in the human body!
Getting enough: Is essential for calcium absorption and so maintaining healthy bones, muscles and joints. This is super important for preventing diseases such as osteoporosis and rickets. Having adequate levels of Vit D has also been linked with lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Depression.
Not all fats are created equal, if the concept of fat being a healthy nutrient seems absurd to you then you need to read this post on healthy fats! Red meat contains many healthy fats, as with all nutrients fats found naturally in real foods are always better for us than those added to processed foods.
Saturated fats found in red meat have been shown to raise levels of HDL or ‘good cholesterol’, promoting good cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of heart disease. This is contrary to the message the media pushes that all sat fats are bad for us!
Getting Enough: Fat is a macronutrient, which means that we need it in large amounts. Just like its macro counterparts’ carbs and protein. Fat has many important physiological functions, it’s a major source of energy, it’s needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and it provides structure in almost every cell in the body.
Choosing the Best Meat for You
Opting for good quality, premium meat doesn’t have to mean going in the red, but spending a few more pennies is surely an investment in health and happiness. Premium red meat isn’t about keeping up with culinary fads or passing trends, the higher ticket price usually reflects next level taste and texture, as well as great animal welfare and sustainable farming.
Following these simple principles when choosing your red meat should help to pick out the best and avoid the rest!
- Grass Fed – Nature’s diet of grass, wildflowers and herbs that the animals thrive on
- Pasture for Life – Allowed to roam freely, all day every day
- Pasture For Life – Meat free from pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics and other toxins that are harmful to health
- Get to know your butcher and local farmers! Building trust in this area is key to finding the best produce and a company that you can rely on :)
Quality red meat that has been minimally processed is a rich source of several health-boosting nutrients. As with all processed foods, when we start adding additives, preservatives and other nasties the food gets further and further away from its natural state and less good for you. Choose red meat which is ethically raised, minimally processed and maximum quality!