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Meat in your diet: the pros and cons

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Meat in your diet: the pros and cons


If you eat a lot of red and processed meat, it is recommended that you reduce it because there is more likely to be a link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer.

Meat in your diet: the pros and cons


Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals in your diet. However, the Ministry of Health has advised people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red

and processed meat per day to reduce the amount to 70g.

Making healthy choices helps you eat meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet. But some meats are high in saturated fat, which can raise your blood cholesterol level.

Chicken, beef, lamb, and beef are all rich in proteinA balanced diet may include protein from meat, as well as from non-animal sources such as beans and legumes.

Red meat is a good source of iron and meat is also one of the main sources of vitamin B12. Observance of food safety rules is important when storing, preparing, and cooking meat.

Meat and saturated fats

Some meats are high in fat, especially saturated fat. Eating a lot of saturated fat raises the level of cholesterol in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease. The type of meat you choose and how you cook it can have a big impact on the saturated fat content.

Healthy choices when buying meat

When buying meat, choose the lowest fat. As a general rule, the more white you see, the more fat it contains. For example, bacon has less fat than veal belly stew. The following tips can help you buy healthier options: Ask your butcher for lean, red meat. If you buy prepackaged meat, check the nutritional information on labels for fat and compare productsChoose turkey and chicken without the skin (remove the skin before cooking) because they are lower in fat. Try to limit processed meat products such as sausages, salami, pureed meat, and burgers, as they are generally high in fat. They are often high in salt, too. Try to limit meat products in pastries, such as pies and sausage rolls, as they are often high in fat and salt.

Reduce fat when cooking meat

Remove any visible fat or skin before cooking - the rind and skin of poultry have a much higher percentage of fat than the meat itself. Here are some other ways to reduce fat when cooking meat: Grill meat instead of frying it. Lean beef steak contains about half the fat of lean beef. Breaded chicken breasts contain about six more fat than grilled, skinless chicken breasts. Do not add extra fats or oils when cooking meat. Grill the meat on a metal rack over the roasting pan so that the fat can escape. Try to use less meat and more vegetables, pulses, and starches in dishes such as stews, curries, and casseroles.

How much red and processed meat should be eaten?

Red meat - such as beef, veal, and lamb - is part of a healthy diet. But eating a lot of red and processed meat may increase the risk of developing bowel (colorectal) cancer. Cured meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or adding preservatives. Processed meats include sausage, cured veal, veal bacon, salami, and foie gras paste. If you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) per day of red and processed meat, the Ministry of Health advises you to reduce it to 70g. Where 90 grams of meat is equivalent to about three slices of roast beef, lamb, or veal, and the size of each slice is approximately the size of half a piece of bread. A cooked breakfast containing two British sausages and two slices of veal bacon is about 130g.

Preserving meat properly

It is important to store and prepare meat safely to stop the spread of bacteria and avoid food poisoning: Store raw meat or raw chicken in clean, airtight containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, so the meat cannot touch or drip onto other food. Follow the storage instructions on the label and do not eat meat after its "use by" date. If you're cooking meat and don't want to eat it right away, cool it as quickly as possible and then put it in the fridge or freezer. Remember to keep cooked meat away from raw meat. Always clean dishes, utensils, surfaces, and hands immediately after touching raw meat or thaw meat to stop the spread of bacteria.

Freezing meat the right way

It is safe to freeze raw meat, by:

  • Freeze it before its 'expiration date' expires.
  • Follow any freezing or thawing instructions on the label.
  • If you defrost it in the microwave, cook the meat immediately. If you want to defrost meat and cook it later, thaw it in the refrigerator so it doesn't get too warm.
  • Use the meat within two days of defrosting it. Because it will spoil just like fresh meat.
  • Cook until it evaporates to high temperatures.

When the meat thaws, liquids come out of it. These liquids spread bacteria to any foods, dishes, or surfaces on contact. Store meat in clean, airtight containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, so the meat cannot touch or drip onto other food.

If you thaw raw meat and then cook it well, you can freeze it again. But do not reheat meat or any other food item more than once as this may lead to food poisoning.

Proper cooking of meat

Some people wash meat before using it, but this increases the risk of food poisoning because water may run on surfaces and can contaminate those surfaces with bacteria. Therefore, it is not recommended to wash the meat.

It is important to prepare and cook the meat well. Cooking meat thoroughly ensures that the harmful bacteria on it are killed. If meat is not cooked to perfection, the bacteria can cause food poisoning.

Bacteria and viruses may be present in certain types of meat. This means that you should cook these types of meat thoroughly until doneness. When the meat is cooked to perfection, the juices dry up completely and there are no pink or red parts left inside the meat.

Meats that should be cooked to maturity are:

  • Poultry and game, such as chicken, turkey, duck, and geese, including liver 
  • Mutton
  • Visceral, including liver
  • Burger and sausage
  • kebab
  • Cabbage joints

You can eat all cuts of beef or lamb when they are pink on the inside - or "raw" - as long as they are well-cooked on the outside. This is because any bacteria is usually on the outside of the meat.

This meat contains:

  • Steaks
  • cutlets
  • knuckles

Liver and its products

The liver and liver products, such as liver and pureed liver sausage, are a good source of iron, as well as being a rich source of vitamin A.

You should be able to get the amount of vitamin A you need from your daily dietAdult needs:

  • 700 micrograms of vitamin A daily for men
  • 600 micrograms of vitamin A daily for women

In any event, we must be careful not to over-eat liver products and liver, because it is a rich source of vitamin A because over the years, accumulates vitamin A in the body to reach harmful levels. This is because the body stores any vitamin A for future use, which means you don't need to consume the whole amount daily.  

Having too much vitamin A—more than 1.5mg of vitamin A per day from food and supplements—over the years may make your bones more likely to fracture as you get older.

People who eat liver or liver puree once a week may get more than an average of 1.5 mg of vitamin A per day. If you eat liver or liver products weekly, you may want to reconsider reducing the amount or not eating it as often. Also avoid taking any vitamin A supplements and fish liver oils, which are also high in vitamin A.

Postmenopausal women and older men should avoid having more than 1.5 mg of vitamin A per week in food and supplements. That is, do not eat liver and liver products more than once a week, or eat smaller meals. This also means not taking any vitamin A supplements, including fish liver oil, when eating liver once a week. This is because older people are more likely to break a bone.

Pregnant women should avoid taking vitamin A supplements, liver and liver products.

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