Is Red Meat Good for You?

I just want to preface this by saying there are many excellent reasons to become vegetarian. Especially cost and not wanting animals to die in order for you to live. I get it. And I fully respect you if you choose not to eat meat for any reason. So if you’re happy not eating meat. As you were. (Oh and you might enjoy the vegan variations in the recipe below.)

But I’ve known many people over the years who have chosen not to eat red meat in favour of fish or chicken because they think its healthier. If you fall into this camp, this post is for you!

……

When I was pregnant I found myself getting incredibly tired. And even though I was sleeping a good 10 hours+ a night I couldn’t seem to shake it.

Then something made me think about iron, and that lack of energy is a typical symptom of iron deficiency. Which of course made me think of red meat. So I decided to conduct an experiment and have a week of eating red meat every day.

And the result?

My tiredness vanished. I was still sleeping like a trooper but I felt great! Now when I get that feeling of being just so tired (which doesn’t happen very often even with a 3 month old in the house) I plan a few more red meat meals. Easy.

6 reasons red meat is good for you.


1. It’s high in ‘heme’ iron.

This is important because heme iron is the easiest for your body to use. But not only that, it makes it easier for your body to use non-heme iron from plant sources as well. So you get and extra boost .

Of course there are other ways to get iron. For the pescetarians go for molluscs such as mussels, clams and oysters. And all liver (think) pate is even higher in iron and tends to be much cheaper than a steak!

2. Red meat also contains other minerals.
Such as zinc, selenium and magnesium. And as with iron, the form of these minerals is easy for our bodies to use.

3. Red meat contains lots of vitamins.
You may already know that meat contains. Vitamin B12 but it also contains significant amounts of other vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. It also has Vitamin D, which important if you aren’t exposed to enough sunlight.

4. It can contain ‘good’ fats.
Red meat from animals that have been fed grass or ‘pastured’ actually contains good levels of omega-3 fatty acids (you know the ones so found in fish that are good for your brain among other things).

5. It doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease.
Remember how we were told to reduce our intake of saturated fat to avoid heart disease? Well turns out as saturated fat intake has decreased over the years, the amount of heart disease has actually gotten worse.

I know. This is because what you replace the saturated fat with is important. It’s actually better from a heart disease perspective to stick to saturated fat than replace it with refined carbohydrates or processed oils.

The other thing to remember not all fat in red meat is saturated. A significant proportion is monounsaturated (like olive oil).

6. It’s a great source of protein.
But you probably already knew that. :)

Surely eating large quantities of meat can’t be a good thing…

I agree!

Eating large amounts of anything tends to cause problems.

I’m not suggesting that you need to eat steak 24/7. Nor is it a good idea to chow down on factory farmed and processed meats.

Just that red meat can be included in a healthy lifestyle. And can make it easier to get many nutrients we need to be happy and healthy!

beef, broccolini & basil

Beef, Broccolini & Basil

I love using ground (minced meat) because it’s more forgiving to cook and tends to be more affordable.

Enough for 2
2 bunches broccolini, chopped
450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
1-2 small red chillis – fresh or dried, chopped, optional
1-2 lemons
1 bunch basil, leaves picked

1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan or wok. Cook broccolini, stirring until no longer super crunchy.

2. Remove veg from the pan. Add a little more oil and cook the meat and chilli, if using on a high heat until well browned.

3. Return the broccolini to the pan. Taste and season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

4. Serve with basil leaves on top and lemon halves.

VARIATIONS
vegan / vegetarian – replace meat with cooked lentils – I especially like French-style or ‘puy’ lentils here. And serve with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to stop it being too dry. A splash of soy sauce will also help give more complexity.

different veg – replace broccolini with broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green beans or even cauliflower.

different meat – most ground (minced) meat is good here. Even chicken or pork. And sliced tender cuts such as beef fillet, lamb backstraps or chicken breast can also be used – just be careful with the cooking time.

budget – serve on a bed of cooked lentils to make your meat go further.

different herbs – replace basil with flat leaf parsley or coriander (cilantro).

Video version of the recipe.

With love,
Jules x

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{ 16 comments }

Gianpaolo Pietri October 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Awesome post! Thanks for this. I have been researching the subject a lot lately and what you are saying here aligns perfectly with my findings.

Now I feel more comfortable knowing you agree, especially the bit about refined carbs & processed oils & their relation to heart disease thru inflammation of the arteries. That was quite a revelation.

Gianpaolo Pietri October 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Could I translate your posts for my Spanish language online newspaper? Full credit and linkback given of course. Our readers would love it. Let me know.

It’s GP from Simply Optimal btw. How have you been?
Thanks again.

jules October 9, 2013 at 5:35 am

GP!
Lovely to hear from you.
Of course, feel free to translate… I’d be honoured
J

Gerald Shields October 9, 2013 at 12:36 am

One word: No. Not only no, but heck no! You can get just as much protein, vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies. Heck, what do you think cows, chickens and pigs eat when they are fed the right stuff?! Moreover, there’s little evidence to prove that grass-fed beef is anymore healthier than the regular stuff. Lastly, grass-beef is very expensive and hard to find in normal groceries.

Lorna October 9, 2013 at 3:16 am

Sorry, not true. And nobody is more sorry about that than me. I have spent many years trying to be healthy on a vegetarian diet – including qualifying as a nutritionist – and have to eat meat and animal fats to avoid deficiency symptoms.

If you live in the UK you will be pleased to hear that the organic beef sold in all supermarkets is predominately grass-fed (very small amounts of grains allowed in special cases). It has to be to meet organic standards. And many butchers sell grass-fed meat. All UK lamb organic or otherwise is grass-fed. If you don’t live in the UK check your organic regulations, you may be surprised at how strict the standards are.

jules October 9, 2013 at 5:38 am

Thanks for sharing your story Lorna!

We have pretty good access to grass-fed meat here in Australia as well. I prefer to support local farmers and butchers because then I know exactly what I’m getting!

jules October 9, 2013 at 5:41 am

Thanks for sharing your opinion Gerald!

Yes you can get protein, vitamins (except B12) and minerals from fruit and veggies BUT it’s much more difficult to get the right quantities in forms that our bodies can easily use. Which is the problem.

J

Tom October 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

Aside from the question of whether red meat is good for you, I had to change my diet to mostly eliminate red meat.

The reason is that red meat has the highest amount of purine of several foods, and eating too much of either red meat or other high in purine foods is apparently a major cause gout.

You hear in the TV ads about the cause of gout being too much uric acid in the blood which crystalizes in the joints, notably the big toe. But what causes too much uric acid in the blood is purine.

Although by changing my diet to mostly eliminate red meat, I do occasionally have a bison burger. By occasionally eating red meat in great moderation, I have not had any recurrence of gout since modifying my diet.

Frances Priest October 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

When I developed anaemia it was when I was on a very high red meat diet – so, no you are very wrong here. I’m now vegetarian and don’t have any iron deficiencies. I pay attention to detail in where I get my iron from and the best way to boost intake such as supplemental Vitamin C. I also have to laugh at your current recipe which is ground meat – are you sure it’s really good meat – have you seen what they put in that stuff?

Linda Woodrow October 9, 2013 at 8:41 am

Here in Australia, my red meat of choice is kangaroo. I know that’s controversial in other parts of the world, but my reasoning is that kangaroo is free range, organic, lean, sustainable, adapted to Australian environment, harvested and grown without cruelty – no abbatoirs or live transport and you don’t waste shots if you are a professional kangaroo shooter. I don’t have a problem with being a predator (we eat fish too, and home grown chicken). I just have a problem with intensive meat production systems, for both ethical and health reasons.

Ray October 11, 2013 at 12:12 am

I think kangaroo is the healthiest red meat you just have to know how to cook it or it’ll turn out pretty gross.

Kylie October 9, 2013 at 8:56 am

Hi Jules,
Great post once again! I have been reading your blog for a while now and really appreciate your down to earth thinking and thought process. Ill be honest with you im a beef farmer and I work in the red meat industry so when this post popped into my inbox I was delighted! Everything that you have said is so true that it makes my heart sing to have a food blogger like yourself appreciate the importance of red meat in the diet!
Thanks for your post, keep up the great work
Kylie

Alex October 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I love red meat… But some powerful studies (especially the 2012 annals of internal medicine study linking red meat consumption levels to mortality) have led me to cut back to a serving a week. More recently researchers at the Cleveland clinic (see the New England journal of medicine) have shown that a substance contained in red meat, tmao, may be to blame. As in all, moderation… Or perhaps the slight side of moderation :)

Sam Neil October 14, 2013 at 4:58 am

This is a big controversy nowadays, if the meat is good or not. My only question is: are all the vegetables found in the supermarkets really healthy, really fullof all those nutrients we need? Because the real organic vegetables are also very expensive…

Hannah Rodgers October 14, 2013 at 10:31 am

Thanks Jules for your research here! We eat vegetarian (and chicken/fish) a lot to save money, but thinking about it more, perhaps a bit more red meat might help hubby with his tiredness. Your recipe looks so delicious right now! x

Bryan October 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Looks like Thai Laurb.

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