The good and the bad in consuming red meat

Hiba Nauman Sep 30 2015
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Eidul Azha comes with blessings, sacrifices and a lot of red meat.

But before we start consuming all the meaty goodness, we should know that red meat has its good and bad, as far as health is concerned, and therefore we need to be wary of how much we consume it.

THE GOOD

If you are anemic, young, or pregnant, then you probably lack iron. In such a case, red meat is for you as it is high in iron. The heme-iron in red meat is extremely important for red blood cell production and the body readily absorbs it. Red meat also supplies vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly.

Red meat increases the protein synthesis of our body. This means that rate of muscle growth increases when you have red meat. Children going through growth spurt can safely consume red meat as it will enhance their growth by increasing the synthesis of muscle and bone.

Beef is one of the most nutritional foods. It is rich in a lot of nutrients important for normal body functions and growth. Shalene McNeil, PhD, executive director of nutrition research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says,

“One 3-ounce serving of lean beef contributes only 180 calories, but you get 10 essential nutrients.”

Red meat, however, has its downs as well.

THE BAD

Some red meats are high in saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) increase the risk of heart disease.

Beef contains a compound called carnitine; this compound hardens the blood vessels and causes atherosclerosis. Researchers found that increased carnitine levels predicted increased risks for cardiovascular diseases. The body makes its own carnitine wherever it is required, hence it doesn’t need any more from outer sources.

PREVENTION

The trick is to eat the right amount of red meat in order to have a balanced diet. Are you burning the calories that you’re getting from the red meat? Are you eating too much red meat and not enough fruits and vegetables?

“The American Institute for Cancer Research, a nonprofit that focuses on cancer prevention through diet and physical activity, advises no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat a week.” – WebMD

When picking your red meat, some things could be of concern. Grass fed cows would always have leaner meat as compared to grain fed. Also remember, grilling your red meat at a very high temperature is harmful and can causes cancer if done too frequently. While cooking meat, turn it frequently using a spatula. Always add salad with your red meat dishes. Try to keep it easy on the oil while having red meat, and have red meat alternately after vegetables, soups etc. Red meat is low in Omega-3s so it cannot replace fish or other food that are rich in omega 3.

As much as we all love steaks and burgers, it is necessary to keep in mind the big picture. You are what you eat and if you eat too much of anything, that is bad. If you do not suffer from any heart diseases then having an occasional dose of beef is great. However, if you have or are at a risk of heart disease, then stay away from red meat. If you are in your growing age or are a woman during child bearing years, having beef is important as it is important for growth as well as formation of red blood cells.

Hiba Nauman

Hiba Nauman:

'Hiba is a dental student with a flair for writing. She takes caffeine very seriously, and loves experimenting with art. She strives to be a dental surgeon someday who not only performs surgeries but also spreads health awareness and free smiles.