Topic: Food and Health

Meat in Your Diet

Oct 25, 2007
Many people cannot imagine their meal without eating meat; others choose vegetarian diet without meat. Is meat essential for our diet or you can well do without it? How much meat is enough and when it gets too much? We will try to sort out all these questions to keep you diet healthy and balanced.

Nutritional Value of Meat



Besides the fact that many people find meat tasty, meat has many useful sources of protein, minerals and vitamins.

Protein

First of all, we cannot underestimate the value of meat as a source of protein necessary to assure efficient metabolism and good functioning of all organs. Without enough protein your vital organs, like heart and liver can be badly affected.

Vitamins

Meat is rich in vitamins group B, such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12, which are essential for good functioning of nervous system and liver and also are useful for healthy eyes, skin and hair. Lack of B-vitamins may lead to anemia, memory loss and weaker immune system. While many of these vitamins are also found in other products, the main source of vitamin B12 is meat and some diary products.

Minerals

Such minerals as iron, zinc, potassium and selenium are also present in meat. Iron is essential for strengthening immune system, while zinc plays an important role in regulating regeneration processes as well as maintaining the optimal balance in organism.

How much meat do you need?



No doubt we need protein and meat can provide us the right amount of it, but in order to make your diet more balanced and healthy you should know how much and what kind of meat you need.

One of the significant factors to keep your diet balanced is to eat meat in moderation. Too much meat may result in constipation, obesity, type 2 diabetes and increased risk of heart diseases.

The average amount of meat recommended by Dietary Guidelines is 5 ounces per day. To ensure the essential amount of protein without meat you can substitute it for eggs, tofu, nuts or seeds. Men usually need larger amount of protein than women to preserve muscle mass. Children need meat throughout their growth, that's why it's not recommended for them to keep to vegetarian diet.

It can be wise to have at least several meatless days per week. You may well eat fish and seafood for about two times per week instead of meat.

How to eat meat?



It is not only important to keep the frequency of eating meat at reasonable degree but also make sure you reduce the negative effect of eating meat.

  • Give priority to lean meat: poultry, beef, lamb, veal and lean pork. They contain less
    meat-fat that is high in calories and more "bad" cholesterol increasing the risk of heart diseases and obesity.

  • Avoid eating prepared meat, like sausages, bacon, frankfurters as they are not only high-fat but also contain more salt and additives that are added to preserve the meat.

  • When eating poultry, try to eat the meat without skin as it contains more saturated fat that is associated with several health risks, like atherosclerosis.

  • When cooking the meat, avoid deep frying as it adds more unhealthy fat. Better use boiling, baking, roasting and cooking in a microwave.

  • Make sure you include a lot of fiber along with meat in your diet. The main source of fiber are fruits and vegetables, that are also rich I vitamins and minerals. Also do not forget about whole grain products that are also a provider of complex carbohydrates.