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 Foods: Red Meats 

Beef or calf liver is known to be one of the most concentrated sources of nutrition available. The liver, though, may concentrate chemicals and other pollutants as well, since it handles much of the body's detoxification in humans and animals. Liver is fairly low in fat and high in protein. It is very high in pre-formed vitamin A?eight ounces of liver have 100,000 IUs, which may cause some side effects, though this is rare with infrequent intake. The vitamin By level is also the highest of any food. Other B vitamins, such as riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), biotin, and colic acid, are also high. Many of the minerals are very good, too, such as iron, zinc, copper, chromium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium. Liver is often suggested as a medicinal food for anemia or fatigue because of its high iron and blood-building nutrients.

Other organs, such as tongue, heart, brains, and kidneys, are occasionally consumed by people with a taste for those things. These organs usually have a higher vitamin and mineral content than do the muscles, but they are not nearly as concentrated as liver.

Another red meat consumed fairly commonly, especially in the Middle Eastern countries, lamb is similar to beef in its nutrient makeup and high protein content, and is said biblically to be the closest to human flesh. Its fat content is about midway between that of the richer and the leaner cuts of beef.

Pork comes from pigs and is eaten by many cultures since the first fragrant burnings of pigs caught in the barn fire. Pig muscles?that is, pork?are similar to beef and lamb in their content of protein, fat and other nutrients. However, the cured pork products, such as ham and bacon, have very high sodium levels and contain other additives, making them foods to be avoided. Also, pork may more easily become infected with bacteria and parasites. It should be refrigerated at all times until it is cooked very well before being eaten.

In general, all meats need to be refrigerated and cooked. The high amount of fats can rapidly lead to spoilage at room temperature. Steak tartare (raw), as served in some restaurants, should be very fresh. Uncooked meat should not even sit in the refrigerator for more than two Day s. It is best frozen until ready for use. The meats can be used in a variety of ways?roasted, baked, fried, broiled, made into stews with vegetables, in soups, and to flavor broth and sauces. There are many kinds of meat dishes, and different cultures use meats differently. In Western countries, large pieces of meat are eaten as the main part of a meal, while in Asian cultures, most meals contain some meat, but in a small portion compared to the vegetables and rice. Meat foods are really not meant to be a staple in the diet.

There are many philosophical and health reasons for not consuming modern meats, at least in large amounts. The main problem is that meat cultivated toDay is not like the wild animals on which our ancestors lived. First, they used meat for feasts and special occasions, not as a main food. Also, the free-ranging animals such as deer, moose, bison, and cattle had a much lower fat content than present-Day animals. They lived naturally only on vegetation and were not force-fed on lots of grains with less activity. These practices have greatly increased the fat content of animals from about 5 percent with only 2-3 percent saturated fats (cattle have slightly more) to the modern-Day levels of five or six times that. These extra amounts of fat in cultivated meats may make the difference, especially in a less active culture, between disease and health.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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