The fabulous 5 healthy meats and the not so faboulous 5

By | May 20, 2012


Healthy and unhealthy meats for you to eatMeat is a big part of my diet. I love meat, but I have been concerned about how healthy meat is. I have heard a lot about problems with beef and poultry, and since I am trying to eat healthier, I am left wondering which, if any, or the meats are good for you. I don’t really want to become an expert on meats, but I do want some idea of what is generally good and what is not. With just a little research, I think I have found what I am looking for. I am not going to try to summarize all of the information I have found, but instead, I just want a list of meats and maybe a couple of highlights on the meat, so here is what I have.

The healthy meats

Healthy 1. Buffalo (Bison)

Although it is a red meat, buffalo has far less fat than steak and buffalo are generally grass-fed, which means healthier. Hamburger (10% fat) contains about 0.32 oz (9 g) of fat. Buffalo burgers contain about 0.14 oz (4 g) of fat.

Healthy 2. Pork

Pork,“the other white meat,” is healthier than red meat. A USDA, University of Wisconsin and Maryland study found that a 3 oz (85 g) of pork tenderloin contains 0.105 oz (2.98 g) of fat. The same amount of skinless chicken breast contains 0.106 oz (3.03 g) of fat. A typical pork chop, with the fat cut off, contains about 0.3 oz (8 g) of fat.

Healthy 3. Chicken

Chicken (not deep-fried) is a low fat (without the skin) white meat, which is healthier than red meat. Charred or grilled chicken can contain cancer-causing chemicals, such as heterocyclic amines, so limit your consumption of well-blackened chicken.

Healthy 4. Turkey

Turkey, generally a white meat (turkey breast), is relatively low in fat. One 4.9 oz (140 g) serving of skinless roasted turkey contains about 0.25 oz (7 g) of fat.

Healthy 5. Fish

Many fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been connected to decreased rates of heart disease and improved brain function. An extensive EPIC study found that people who eat lots of fish are less likely to develop colon cancer than those who don’t. However, large fish like tuna can contain high levels of mercury, which is not good for the body. Avoid large fish that eat other fish (tuna, swordfish and shark); stick to smaller fish like wild Alaskan salmon.


The unhealthy meats

Not so healthy 1. Lamb

Lamb is a red meat and fatty. A recent 10-year EPIC study found that people who ate red meat every day were a third more likely to develop colon cancer than those who didn’t. The problem might be due to two compounds, hemoglobin and myoglobin, which are found in all red meat. Researchers theorize that these compounds react with chemicals in the gut to create cancer-causing agents.

Not so healthy 2. Beef

Beef, and other red meats, has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Grilled or charred beef (and other meats) has been linked to increased rates of prostate cancer. A study by the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center found that a chemical compound that’s created by cooking meats at high temperature promotes prostate cancer in rats. If you eat beef, consider eating it rare or cook it at low temperatures and slowly with indirect heat.

Not so healthy 3. Sausage (Pork)

Sausage, specifically pork sausage, is loaded with fat and highly processed and seasoned with sometimes-suspect spices and chemicals. When it comes to meats, sausage is probably one of the worst for you. Also, the European Food Safety Authority recently found that a red food coloring in cheap sausages, called Red 2G, could cause cancer. They’re don’t know how much of the dye is needed to cause problems. If you must eat sausage, don’t get the cheap brands. They’re more likely to contain the dyes and suspect meats.

Not so healthy 4. Bacon

Bacon is one of the highest-fat meats and is cured with chemicals that have been linked to increased rates of cancer – specifically nitrosamines. These chemicals have been known to be carcinogenic in high quantities. Try to avoid bacon and only eat it on special occasions.

Not so healthy 5. Salami

Salami, and other cured sausage like peperoni, is probably the worst meat for you becasue it is loaded with fat and cured with the same chemicals that make bacon carcinogenic. In some cases, salami can contain higher levels of nitrosamines than bacon. If you must eat salami, get the premium brands and check to see if the manufacturer uses nitrates or nitrosamines as a preservative. Many companies have cut the chemicals from their products altogether.

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