Diet for Meat Eaters

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Meat is a good protein source and can be a part of a healthy balanced diet. However, some types and cuts of meat are more healthful than others. If you enjoy including meat in your diet, learning which meats are good for you can be important for healthy living.

How Much Meat

  • Because meat contains so much protein, you do not need to eat much of it at one time to get your recommended daily allowance. In fact, a serving of meat is usually about four ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards. As often as you can, make meat an add-in rather than the focus of your meal. For instance, a little steak tossed into a mix of stir-fried vegetables and served over brown rice or whole grain pasta is better for you nutritionally than a large piece of meat and a side salad. Remember that you do not need to include meat in your diet daily to meet your protein requirements. Dairy products, soy, lentils, beans and nuts are also high in protein and can be good meat alternatives. In fact, a varied diet is more healthful than one consisting largely of one food type.

Meat to Avoid

  • Red meat such as pork, beef, lamb and venison should be eaten in moderation, only once a week. Red meat is high in saturated fats, which are responsible for raising cholesterol levels and contributing to heart disease. When you do eat red meat purchase, lean cuts and trim the fat as much as possible. Lean cuts of red meat are better for you nutritionally than ground meats like hamburger or sausage, which contain added fat. Organ meats are high in cholesterol. Processed meats like hot dogs, salami and sausage should be eaten infrequently because they have been linked to stomach cancer. The way you cook meat helps determine how healthy it is. Avoid frying meat in fat, which can add to the fat content and increase your caloric intake. Instead grill, broil or roast meats so that the fats are rendered out and removed.

Meat to Eat Often

  • White meat (e.g., chicken, turkey) also contains saturated fats but in much lower levels and can nearly be avoided completely by removing the skin before consuming. The best source of protein from meat is in the form of fish, particularly fatty fish like trout and salmon. In contrast to the saturated fats in red meat, fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which actually promote heart health. Aim to eat at least two servings of fish per week.

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