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The benefits of eating meat

Gastronomy tips

The benefits of eating meat

Eating or not eating meat is not good or bad 'per se'. What counts is the whole diet. It is important to eat a little of everything and not a lot of one thing. This is what Dr. Esther Telleria explains.

What does eating meat provide us?

The composition of meat varies greatly from animal to animal.It also differs depending on the animal's age, sex and diet, as well as on the particular piece it belongs to. Therefore, we can't generalize when talking about its nutritional properties or their effects on health.

It's all about frequency and quantity of consumption. A serving of meat is around 100-130 grams, and it is advisable to eat meat 3 to 4 times a week, alternating with the consumption of fish and eggs.

*Meat is one of the best sources of protein, iron and vitamin B12 in our diet. If we eliminate it from our diet we run the risk of not being properly nourished.

* Proteins are necessary to maintain body mass, to form hormones, for a healthy immune system and a correct metabolism.

* However, too much protein can cause kidney problems, overload the liver function and lead to osteoporosis.

*The best source of iron in our diet are red meats, and offal like liver or kidneys. The iron supplied by these foods belongs to the ‘heme’ group, which is high availability. Legumes, nuts and some vegetables supply iron called ‘non-heme’, of lower availability and therefore of less nutritional interest than iron of animal origin.

* Vitamin B12 plays a part in the proper functioning of the nervous system, it is important for correct metabolism and is also involved in forming red blood cells. The only source of vitamin B12 is food of animal origin. We should note that, from the age of 50, many people lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12, as do people with stomach problems, or celiacs, and it is very important for their diet to contains foods high in this vitamin as is the case of meats.

Types of meats and their benefits

In a balanced diet, it is ideal to eat meat 3 or 4 times a week, but what does each type of meat provide? We summarize the benefits of the most popular meats so you can cover your dietary needs as well as possible.

Beef: for athletes and adolescents

In general, it has a moderate fat content, but there are large differences between the different pieces. Sirloin, for example, is very lean. The animal's age also has an impact. Meat from milk-fed young animals is easier to chew and easier to digest. However, it provides less iron and fewer vitamins, but it also has no fat or cholesterol.
This meat is recommended for overweight people or people with slow digestion and high cholesterol. Meat from older livestock has more fat and cholesterol, but also gives us more protein, iron and vitamins.

Pork:low fat

It has the unfair reputation of being very high in fat. However, the type of pork we usually consume is white pork, and its meat has little fat marbling and it is almost all on the surface, making it easy to remove before or after cooking. This meat is recommended in weight-loss diets and for people with cardiovascular diseases. This is not the case with the Iberian pig, but the Iberian pig's fat is high in oleic acid meaning its consumption does not pose a health risk as long as we follow the nutritional recommendations: 130 grams per serving. The sirloin is the leanest part of the pig and pork loin has less fat than a chicken leg. The part of the ribs has more fat.

Lamb: high in iron and fat

The older the animal, the more iron it will have. However, as this meat is high in fat (although it changes according to the pieces), it is important to remove it before cooking. And chops have more fat than the leg. Milk-fed lamb has very little fat, and can be consumed in any diet without posing a risk to health. This meat is recommended for anemic and underweight people.

Chicken: low in cholesterol and iron

It is a very lean meat and if we remove the skin we remove most of its fat. It is very easy to eat and digest because it has very little collagen. As it has less cholesterol and saturated fats, it is recommended for people with cardiovascular disease, as long as they don't eat the skin. As it contains a lot of water, it should be well cooked, because microorganisms can grow in water that can affect our health. It has less iron than beef or lamb.

Rabbit: low fat

It is suitable to include in a balanced diet, complete and healthy because it is very lean, providing little fat and cholesterol. However, it provides less iron than red meats.

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