Health Benefits of Red Meat
While studies indicate that red meat is best consumed in moderation, it’s still a nutritionally valuable food.
The most valuable foods nutritionally are whole and minimally-processed foods. While humans are omnivores and require both nutrients predominantly or exclusively found in plant foods and nutrients predominantly or exclusively found in animal foods, we don’t need equal volumes of these foods in order to meet our nutritional needs. Instead, a diet that emphasizes a wide diversity of plant foods with moderate consumption of meat and seafood, most easily meets our nutritional needs.
The nutrients predominantly or exclusively found in animal foods include: pre-formed vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B12, vitamin D3, vitamin K2, heme iron, zinc, high-quality protein, creatine, taurine, carnitine, carnosine, anserine, hydroxyproline, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).
What makes red meat red in color is an iron-rich protein called myoglobin. Myoglobin binds to oxygen similarly to hemoglobin, providing additional oxygen for muscles when demand is higher than what can be supplied by the blood, for example during very intense exercise or when you hold your breath! The more myoglobin, the redder the meat when raw (and the higher the iron content). The nutritional definition of red meat is as any meat that contains more myoglobin than white meat, with white meat defined as any non-dark meat from poultry or fish. Yes, even though you may have heard pork described as “the other white meat”, scientifically speaking it’s really red. The most common sources of red meat in Western countries are beef, pork, lamb, and bison.
Beef provides complete, easily-digested protein, as well as being a good source of iron, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, B vitamins – including being a particularly valuable source of vitamins B3, B6 and B12 – taurine, creatine, carnosine, carnitine and coQ10. And, pork is a great source of easily-digested complete protein, as well as phosphorus, selenium, zinc, B vitamins, coQ10, taurine, carnosine, carnitine, creatine and also contains some ergothioneine.
- Carnosine is a dipeptide that helps slow aging in cells, particularly by protecting against oxidation and DNA damage and slowing the rate of advanced glycation end-product (AGE) formation. It appears to protect against the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque.
- Creatine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid that helps supply energy to cells, especially muscle cells. It may help increase muscle strength, boost functional performance, and reduce DNA mutation.
- Taurine is a non-proteinogenic amino sulfonic acid that supports neurological development, serves as a major component of bile, and plays a role in water and mineral regulation within the blood (including through membrane stabilization and calcium signaling). It also plays a role in cardiovascular function and the development of skeletal muscle.
- Carnitine is an ammonia-based compound, carnitine transports long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria to be oxidized for energy production, while also helping to remove metabolic waste products out of the mitochondria. It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and improve cardiovascular health.
- CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant and a cofactor in the electron transport chain for the production of ATP. It may be helpful in treating or preventing heart and blood vessel conditions, diabetes, gum disease, muscular dystrophy, chronic fatigue syndrome, and breast cancer.
Examples of Red Meat
Nutrients in Red Meat
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