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 Foods: Red Meats 
The "red meats" are probably the most controversial of the food categories It is very clear that an excess of meat in the diet can cause all kinds of problems from the high amounts of fat and sodium, and likely from excess protein as well. The saturated fat concentration is probably the worst aspect of meat. But many doctors and other people believe that they have to eat red meats for a balanced diet?that without the protein and iron from meat, they will be undernourished. Eating meat does make it a little easier to obtain these nutrients, but the negative aspects of beef and other cultivated red meats, I believe, outweigh the positive, especially when meat is eaten at all regularly. I personally have chosen not to eat red meats, and many more health-oriented people are making that same choice.

Red Meats
Beef Pork

The cow-steer-cattle family is what most people think when we say "meat." We will call this "beef," and most of our discussion refers to this flesh of the cattle, because that is the commonly consumed meat, though in some cultures lamb or pork is more common. Meat is basically the muscles of these animals. The organs such as the liver and heart are usually referred to by their specific name or as organ meats.

There are many parts of the steer that are commonly eaten. They all provide a high amount of complete protein, as these muscle meats are very close in makeup to human protein. Meats, then, probably supply the best mixture of the amino acids to build human tissues. But the different cuts of meat may vary greatly in their fat content, and this is, again, the greatest concern with meat. If eating meat, it is wise to eat more of the leaner cuts, such as flank or round steak, rump or chuck roasts, lean ground beef or stew meat, veal cutlets, or sirloin steaks, at the higher end. The richer and fattier meats also tend to have the richer flavor, as it is the fats, especially the saturated ones, that tend to add flavor to these foods. T-bone and porterhouse steaks, ribs, rib roast, brisket, pork chops, and ham are higher in fats, about 35?5 percent; this may vary somewhat depending on the grade of meat?choice, prime, or good. The good grades usually contain less fat, which can make them a little less tender. The higher-grade meats are usually fattened on special foods just before they are slaughtered to make them more flavorful and tender, as well as higher priced. The highest-fat meats are the processed ones, such as bacon, lunch meat, canned hams, and salami. These "foods" also usually have very high sodium levels and chemical additives, such as nitrates, which may add further dangers.

Besides the protein, fat, and calories in the meats, there are many other nutrients. The iron content is very good and more usable by our body than iron from any other source. Zinc and selenium are found in some meats. The B vitamins are in fairly good levels, especially hard-to-get vitamin Bit. Niacin, folic acid, thiamine, and pantothenic acid are also found in most meats. Vitamin A levels are only moderate though very high in liver. Vitamin E and D are minimal. Potassium and phosphorus are the highest of the other minerals. The low amount of calcium makes the calcium-phosphorus ratio of meats another concern in terms of the health of our bones and kidneys. Sodium is also found in larger amounts than in other foods, but if meat is unsalted, it is not very high.

(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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