Red meat has been given a pretty bad rep for its supposedly negative health effects during the last few decades. You’ve probably heard and read a bunch of horror stories about how red meat causes clogged arteries and heart disease, raises cholesterol, causes cancer, etc. Many researchers are coming back on this now though, as a number of new studies are indicating that red meat (in moderate consumption) might actually be good for your health. While more research is still to be done, red meat seems to have been given a bad rep based on inconclusive or poor research.
As with most things concerning foods and drinks, moderation is usually key. A few servings of lean red meat per week won’t kill you and could even improve your health by providing your body a number of essential nutrients.
Below we’ve gathered the most important nutrients in red meat and their associated health benefits.
It’s All About Protein
The protein in red meat provides the necessary amino acids for building muscle mass and repairing damaged tissue. Building muscle mass is important because you need it to safely perform any physical activity, it also helps increase bone density and has been shown to improve sleep and mental health. Research also suggests that ample protein consumption induces weight loss because it helps suppress your appetite for hours after consumption.
You need iron for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Iron also contributes to the storage and use of oxygen in muscles. Low levels of iron can lead to fatigue, and cognitive and behavioral problems. Red meat contains a significant amount of heme iron (how much depends on the cut), a form of iron which is easier to absorb and utilize by the human body than the iron found in vegetables.
While the sun remains the best source of vitamin D, red meat can help supplement your vitamin D levels during those times when you can’t get enough vitamin D from sun exposure. Red meat contains one of the easiest for the body to absorb forms of vitamin D.
Red meat contains a number of B vitamins which are needed to keep your body healthy. Red meat is a good source of vitamin B-12, which helps regulate the nervous system, has been shown to protect against several mental health issues and helps keep your skin and hair healthy. It also contains vitamin B-6, which is important for healthy brain function.
Eating red meat can provide you a good chunk of the recommended daily dose of zinc. Zinc boosts your immune system, stimulates healthy brain function and helps build muscle.
It’s always important to do some investigating yourself, but looking at current research, we don’t think there is any reason to quit a moderate red meat habit. We’re not saying you should devour half a cow per day, but you also shouldn’t be worrying about your health next time you visit your favorite steakhouse or churrascaria. Just make sure to eat a diverse diet. You can’t really have steak without a bit of salad, right?
Zane Schwarzlose writes for Estancia Churrascaria, an Austin-based Brazilian steakhouse. Zane got hungry just writing this article.
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