You've heard it before: "We are what we eat." But is that really true? What does eating meat do to our bodies, brains and cognitive abilities, and how does it shape who we are? Despite what the health influencers on Instagram tell you, meat can actually enhance your health, as long as you are eating the right kinds and sticking to proper portion sizes.
How Does Meat Support Your Health?
Meat choices, like beef and poultry, are a staple on many people’s plates. We all know that eating these foods is extremely satisfying and tasty. But you may wonder if eating these proteins does anything for your health when you are chowing down.
As long as you are choosing lean options, sticking to the 3-4 ounce recommended portion size, and aren’t adding store bought sauces or marinades* that are loaded with unhealthy fats, salt, or sugar, meat can provide you with a slew of key nutrients that support our overall health in various ways. For more nutritional information on Greensbury's meats, visit Greensbury's Nutritional Comparison Chart.
Both red meat and chicken contain iron, an essential nutrient that your body needs to function properly. If you don't get enough, your body can't make red blood cells or store energy from foods. This can lead to anemia and fatigue.
In addition to being necessary for good health, iron has also been shown to help prevent heart disease and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends getting 18 mg of iron per day for men between the ages of 19-50 and 8 mg per day for women between the ages of 51-70. For women over the age of 70, 10 mg per day is suggested.
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps maintain your immune system, growth and development, wound healing, and healthy skin. Meat (especially beef) is one of the best sources of zinc, making this food group a key addition to an immune-enhancing diet.
Protein is important for building and repairing body tissues, including muscles, skin, and bone. It also helps you grow stronger hair and nails and maintain a healthy immune system. Protein can also help you lose weight as it takes longer for your body to digest protein than carbohydrates or fat.
Protein that comes from meat contains all of the essential amino acids, or the amino acids that your body cannot make on its own.
If you're wondering how to get enough vitamin B12, the answer is to eat more animal products, like meat.
Vitamin B12 is important for the production of red blood cells and the normal functioning of the nervous system. This nutrient also helps your body use the energy from food and synthesize DNA and RNA, as well as myelin (the protective layer that covers nerve cells). Vitamin B12 may help maintain healthy homocysteine levels, which have been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Choline is an essential micronutrient that is found in meat, eggs, fish, and many other foods. It plays a vital role in brain function, and it has been shown to improve memory and focus. In addition to being important for the brain, choline is also necessary for the liver to work properly, and it can help protect against heart disease.
When women are pregnant or lactating, they need an extra amount of choline—the recommended daily intake (RDI) during these periods is up to 550 milligrams per day.
Meat can be a positive part of a balanced diet, and this food group can offer some unique benefits to your health. As long as you are sticking to leaner cuts of meat, are eating appropriate portion sizes, and are not adding those unhealthy store bought sauces or marinades into the mix, meat can be a dynamite addition.
Pairing your meat with other nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, whole grains, and legumes will ensure that you meet your nutritional needs and won’t be left with any nutritional gaps.
Greensbury Market has a wide variety of lean meat choices that are pre-portioned and ready to cook. From Greensbury Organic Grass-Fed Flank Steak to Greensbury Organic Free-Range Chicken Breast, searching for the best lean cuts of meat on the Greensbury Market website won’t leave you empty handed. So, add some nutrition to your salads, stews, and other dishes by including meat as an ingredient--your body will benefit from the additional nutrients, and your palette will be happy with that incredibly satisfying taste. Bon Appetit!
* Try making your sauces and marinades at home. It's easier than you think and not only will you not have to worry about any unhealthy ingredients but you'll probably save money too!
Written by Lauren Manaker for Greensbury Market, Corp.
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian based in Charleston, South Carolina. She earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree in human nutrition and is passionate about helping people achieve their nutrition goals. She currently acts as a consultant, food blogger, and freelance writer for outlets including Eating Well and POPSUGAR. When Lauren isn't working, she is enjoying the outdoor life with her daughter, husband, and rescue-pup.