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The facts on red meat and your health

Red meat is an important, and natural source of protein.

A staple and popular choice for dinner, lean red meat can play an important role in maintaining a health and balanced diet (as recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines).

Apart from protein, lead red meat also provides a natural source of zinc and iron, both of which play a role on maintaining an individual’s wellbeing and maintaining a healthy immune system.

Australian Good Meat, a website dedicated to providing consumers with factual information about the benefits of meat, has put together a list of commonly asked questions about red meat.

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about red meat:

  1. What are the nutritional benefits of red meat?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating red meat because it is an important source of protein, zinc and iron.

Iron: Iron is important during early childhood and the Australian Infant Feeding Guidelines recommend the introduction of iron-rich foods such as red meat from around 6 months of age.

Iron is also important for maintaining wellbeing in women who have twice the iron requirements of men due to menstrual loss.

Protein: With 22g of protein per 100g, red meat is a ready source of protein important for muscle health, which is important for maintaining independence in the latter years.

Zinc: Zinc has multiple roles in the body and is particularly important for maintaining a health immune system, which is important for fighting infections.

2. Is meat containing hormonal growth promotants (HGPs)

All international bodies and national regulatory agencies, except the European Commission, have concluded that residues of registered HGPs do not pose a threat to consumers when HGPs are used according to good veterinary practice.

While the European Commission currently bans HGP use, the World Trade Organization has determined that the ban is unjustified and not based on any scientific evidence.

3. Is red meat healthy?

Eating 130g of lean and cooked red meat every other day in a healthy, balanced diet in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines is good for healthand wellbeing.

Red meat is recommended in a healthy diet because it is an excellent protein source of iron and zinc in the Australian diet. For wellbeing, eating red meat in recommended amounts and with plenty of vegetables makes an enjoyable and healthy, balanced meal.

4. Does red meat cause cancer?

There is no evidence that eating lean red meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle in amounts recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines is associated with increased risk of cancer.

Available evidence suggests that the association between red meat consumption and risk of cancer is not causal and may be explained by unhealthy diet and lifestyle risk factors, which includes excessive consumption of red meat.

5. What’s the difference between grassfed and grainfed?

Grassfed meat comes from animals that have only grazed on grass. They feed on a range of different types of grasses, depending on climate and region. Grainfed meat comes from animals which are fed grass for most of their lives and then transition to grain-based diets for the remainder of their lives, for 60-100 days for most livestock.

In Australia, cattle and sheep are predominantly grassfed and account for, on average, approximately two-thirds of overall beef and sheepmeat production.

Grainfed animals are fed a selection of grains including wheat, barley and sorghum. Grains are combined with lupins or field peas, by-products of cottonseed or canola and hay to deliver the necessary protein, carbohydrate, fat and roughage required to ensure nutritional requirements are met. These ingredients are different to those used in the US, where soy and corn dominate.

How much red meat should I eat?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 130g of lean and cooked red meat every second day, alternating between meals with smaller and larger portion sizes.

Image source: Australian good meat

For more information about the nutritional benefits of red meat, visit Australian Good Meat.

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