Red Meat and What You Need to Avoid
Red meat is making a comeback, especially since many people are understanding more about the benefits of eating high quality red meat. For many years, there was confusion about the health benefits that could be gained from red meat, and people were mistakenly told that red meat was bad for their health.
Red meat is arguably one of the most controversial foods in the human diet, especially since conflicting information has been shared over the years. After reading this article, you will see that red meat isn’t so bad… in fact, it should be an important part of a well-balanced, healthy diet.
Red Meat: Today vs. 100 Years Ago
Before we look at the reasons why you should include red meat in your diet, it is important that we first take a look at the differences between red meat today compared with many years ago. Humans have been eating meat throughout history and our digestive systems are built in a way to handle the meat.
The problem is that today’s meat is different in many ways from the natural meat that was consumed by our ancestors. Before the days of factory farming and mass production of beef, the meat was raised in a very different way. The animals were free to roam through the fields and eat grass throughout the day, and their diet was very natural based on the insects and plants that were freely available.
On the other hand, cows are raised in a completely different environment today. Buying conventionally raised, factory-farmed meat from the grocery store means that the cow was (1):
- Confined to a small space, in an area with many other animals
- Fed grain-based feed, instead of the fresh natural field grasses
- Pumped full of antibiotics to combat the disease the runs rampant because of the close quarters
- Injected with hormones to make the animal grow faster
When you visit the meat department at a regular grocery store, then you should know that the animals were raised with all of the negative methods listed above. The majority of the meat in the grocery store is unhealthy and harmful to your health, and you need to take extra measures to ensure that you are buying high quality products instead.
It is possible to buy red meat from cows that were humanely raised and had the opportunity to live a pastured life. But, you need to be proactive to source the meat from a reputable provider. Expect to pay a little more for this type of meat, but it is worth the expense because you will be getting higher levels of nutrition and better overall quality in the meat that you will be consuming.
Processed Red Meat vs. All Natural Meat
Once the animal is slaughtered, many of the meats go through extreme processing before they are ready to be sold in the grocery stores. The meat is often cured, smoked, and treated with preservatives, nitrates, and other chemicals.
Examples of processed meat include bacon, sausage, hamburger, lunch meat, pepperoni, and other products that are no longer in their natural form. If you plan to eat these processed types of red meat, then you need to be very selective about the brand and make sure that you are avoiding the additives that are often included during the processing.
Nutritional Benefits of Red Meat
There are many reasons why you should include red meat in your diet, especially if you are sourcing it from a grass-fed cow. In fact, it has been found that red meat is one of the most nutritious types of food that can be eaten. It is loaded with minerals, vitamins, and protein, and it can contribute to many aspects of your overall health.
Grass-fed meat has even higher nutritional properties compared with conventionally raised meat. High quality red meat provides important nutrients, including (2):
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6
Additionally, grass-fed meat is a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. It has been found that conventionally raised red meat is lacking in these important fatty acids. (3) This healthy fatty acid profile is difficult to find in other types of food, but it is important for overall health and wellness.
Why Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids are so Important
It has been found that imbalanced ratios of omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids can have a direct impact on inflammation levels within the body. Many people are running into chronic health issues that are rooted in these inflammatory problems.
If the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is greater than 4:1, then the risk of these chronic health problems increases. Many people consume way too many omega-6’s and not enough omega-3’s, because the Standard American Diet is filled with many sources of omega-6’s. For example, many types of grains and other processed foods provide your body with omega-6’s, which increases your ratio and in turn increases your risk of chronic health problems.
Grain-fed, conventionally raised cows have been found to have a ratio of 20:1 omega-6’s to omega-3’s. In comparison, grass-fed beef has a better ratio of 3:1. You can see that it is quite the drastic difference depending on the way the animal was raised and the type of food that the cow was consuming. (4)
To put it simply, grass-fed red meat is high in the protective fats that can enhance your health. At the same time, grass-fed red meat is also low in the types of fat that can have a negative impact on your health and lead to disease.
When you are getting enough of the omega-3 essential fatty acids that are needed and you are decreasing your consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, it helps to balance the overall ratio that you are consuming. This healthier pattern of higher omega-3’s and lower omega-6’s reduces the overall inflammation in your body. As the inflammation is reduced, it also reduces the risk of some of these chronic health problems:
- Autoimmune Disorders
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
Healthy Red Meat Recipes
If you plan to eat red meat in your diet, then you need to look for healthy ways to prepare the meat so that your family can enjoy the meal and stay healthy. Here are some of the most popular red meat recipes on our website: