Meats: The Good vs Bad
In general, meats are a good source of protein. What’s protein, you’re wondering? Well, it’s an important building block for our bodies and is something we need in order to build new blood, cartilage, muscles and skin. Essentially, protein is a crucial component for every cell in our body, as our bodies use protein to both build and repair tissues, create enzymes, hormones, and other important body chemicals. Even our hair and nails are made out of protein. Unlike other vitamins and minerals, which are known as “micronutrients” and only needed in small quantities, protein is considered a “macronutrient” – meaning it’s something we need larger amounts of in order to stay as healthy as possible, and consuming meats is one of the best ways to get it. However, some meats are considered healthier than others.
First, it’s important to note that there are different categorizations of meat, and they are as follows:
- Red meat
- White meat
- Processed meats
Red meat comes from mammals and contains the iron-rich protein known as myoglobin. This particular protein contains a prosthetic group that is responsible for carrying oxygen molecules to our muscle tissues. Examples of red meats include:
- Beef (from cattle)
- Pork (from pigs)
- Veal (from calves)
- Game (from deer, bison, elk, and venison.)
White meat is lighter in colour compared to red meat, and it comes from birds or smaller game. Some examples of white meat include:
Processed meats are products that have been modified with additives to enhance flavour and prevent fast spoilage. These modifications can include smoking, curing, salting, drying, or other types of processes. Examples of processed meats include:
- Hot dogs
- Lunch meats (such as salami and bologna)
When choosing meat, it’s important to note that red meats tend to be higher in saturated fats than white meats. Saturated fat, which is considered the bad type of fat, can raise your LDL levels (also known as the bad cholesterol), which can then increase your risk of developing heart disease, can worsen heart disease in those who have already been diagnosed, or even put you at risk of suffering a stroke. Therefore, it’s normally recommended that you limit your intake of red meat and either consume more white meat. Another alternative to meat would be to switch to fish, such as salmon. Salmon contains unsaturated fat and has many health benefits.
If you’re going to be consuming meat, it’s also recommended that you make sure you remove any skin. While some people find that meats are moister and more tender when the skin is left on, by removing it you eliminate as much as half the fat, which is healthier for you in the long-run.