Red meat: Since the dawn of time, man has survived by eating meat. It is only after he settled down and became a farmer, he included plants and plant products in his diet. However, he has done a rethinking on the amount of red meat he consumes and has put some limits on it. Here, we see what meat does for you and what are the shortcomings of eating red meat.
We consider a meat white or red depending on the amount of Myoglobin it contains. If the amount is more, it is a red meat. The Myoglobin is a protein that holds oxygen. It does this in the muscle portion of the meat. Pork which contains more Myoglobin than fish or chicken is a red meat.
Red meat advantages
First, let us see the nutritive value of red meat. Then, we can see how much we need to eat to survive and be healthy.
The heme iron in red meat is easily absorbed by the body. Many teenage girls and women who are in the child-bearing age do not have enough iron in their diet. Another important contribution of red meat is Vitamin B12. We need this vitamin for maintaining the health of red blood cells and the nerves. It also helps make DNA. Lack of Vitamin B12 is one of the reasons for infertility, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disorders. Lastly, it supplies zinc that our immune system needs.
The protein in the red meat is useful for building muscle and bones. Beef is a food item that is nutrient rich. If you compare its calorific value to the nutrient content, it beats all the rest of the red meat items. If you consider a 2-ounce serving, the calorie content is only 120 while you get 10 essential nutrients.
The other nutrients we get from red meat include selenium and Vitamin D. Selenium is a much-needed ingredient for the functioning of the human immune system. Deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to A degenerative disease known as rickets. And there is a significant amount of unsaturated fat (healthy fat) in red meat. In fact, the amount of saturated and unsaturated fats is about the same.
Since the amount of unsaturated fats can improve your heart health by lowering the ratio of LDL cholesterol, it seems one must eat red meat.
Red meat Disadvantages
If you eat too much of meat items rich in Vitamin A such as liver sausage and liver pate, you could have a build-up that could prove detrimental. For instance, your bones could break when you are over 60 if you have too much of Vitamin A. Older men and women must avoid having more than 1.5 grams of Vitamin A per week.
A few types of red meat have excessive amounts of saturated fats that increase the blood cholesterol. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol have a direct correlation to heart disease. The link to cancer is unclear, but the physicians say there is a link. This is especially so for colorectal cancer. One steak a week increase the chances of bowel cancer by 42%. The suggestions are on three elements of red meat.
One is the carcinogens that form when you cook meat. The next is the saturated fat that has bad outlook about heart disease and cancers of the breast and colon. Last is the heme iron could produce compounds that damage the cells. This action could lead to cancer.
Health point of view
- Eating red meat hardens the blood vessels: Carnitine, a substance found in red meat is the cause of atherosclerosis.
- It shortens your life span: Eating healthier alternatives for protein such as nuts, poultry, and fish shows a lower risk of mortality.
- Supermarket packed meat is full of slime: An additive in ground beef is an ingredient called lean finely textured beef. It is a term they use for leftover meat that they heat and spin to remove the fat and treat with ammonia gas to kill the bacteria. They add this to ground beef.
- You may be eating meat glue: Another trick the beef suppliers use is to ‘stick’ small pieces of the meat together with a ‘glue’ known as transglutaminase. This is an enzyme they derive from animal blood and it finds use in making invisible bonds between small pieces of meat to make is seem one large piece.
- coli may affect you: Many food items have E. coli that could affect your health. Some of them including unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. The chances of E. coli in the beef that you eat increases when the number of cows that contributed to the burger you eat increases.
- Increased risk of type-2 diabetes: A study conducted showed that eating 100 grams of red meat a day led to 19-51% increase in diabetes risk.
- You risk diseases of the colon and the brain: Excessive iron in the brain increases the chances of Alzheimer’s disease. The excessive iron in the brain causes the destruction of myelin, a protective fatty tissue that covers the nerves. This disrupts communication in the brain, and the person develops Alzheimer’s disease.
- Plenty of harmful hormones in meat: When women ate more than one-and-a-half servings of red meat, the risk of hormone-sensitive breast cancer.
Environment point of view
- Livestock produce plenty of greenhouse gases: Cows release as much as 70-120 kg of methane per year. The negative effect of methane on the atmosphere is 23 times higher than carbon dioxide.
- Prevent cruelty to animals: There is plenty of experimentation done using animals and the thought that the meat was once a live animal is sometimes appalling.
Meat for pregnant women
Pregnant women should avoid meat for many reasons. Primarily, they should avoid eating raw and under-cooked meat as this increases the risk of toxoplasmosis. They should avoid pates including vegetable pate as they contain listeria, a type of bacteria that might prove dangerous to the unborn child. And, they should avoid food items that contain too much of Vitamin A as this could be harmful for the child. Iron is vital for the foetal brain development and you get this from red meat.
The bottom line
If you eat 90 grams of cooked and processed meat a day, you should cut it down to 70 grams. Exercise every day as this will help burn the extra calories. By walking briskly (or slowly if that suits you) for half-an-hour, you burn 90-120 calories depending on how heavy you are. Have one or two cups of green tea and drink 8 cups (2 litres) of water a day.