Why meat should fit in one’s healthy diet
When it comes to a healthy diet, balance is the key to getting it right. This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink depending on how active you are.
The 2012 nutritional guidelines for Filipinos prepared by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations suggested the consumption of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, along with extra serving of vegetables and fruits every day.
The two agencies also included milk, milk products and other calcium-rich foods, such as shellfish as among those we should also include in our daily meals.
“In today’s hurried lifestyle—with deadlines to meet, urgent business to attend to or assignments to complete—meal planning is very important,” said Jake Lugay, marketing manager of San Miguel Foods.
The power of meat
Lugay added meat should never be off the menu as it is an excellent source of important nutrients not found naturally in foods of plant origin. “Never underestimate the power of meat—both the red (like lean beef and pork) and white variety (poultry and fish)—as they contain a wide variety of nutrients in a relatively small amount. Meat is a major source of protein and also contributes minerals and trace elements to the diet, particularly zinc and iron. It is an important source of B vitamins, most importantly B12, which is not found naturally in foods of plant origin.”
He explained that lean meats, including beef and pork, contain a type of iron (called heme iron) which is more easily absorbed and used by the body than the iron found in plant foods (nonheme iron) such as nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables.
Lugay added that meat is also an excellent source of a number of B vitamins: B3, niacin, B6 and most especially, B12, which is not found naturally in foods of plant origin. “Vitamin B12 is important for healthy red blood cells, growth and the production of energy. It has also recently been found to make an important contribution to Vitamin D intakes (Vitamin D works with calcium and phosphorous to build strong bones and teeth).”
15 ounce of zinc
Moreover according to Lugay, meat is a source of readily absorbable zinc, which is another important mineral used by the body for the healthy functioning of the immune system, growth, wound-healing and fertility. “We could get about 30 percent of our dietary intake of zinc from red meat and other meat products.”
While protein could also come from plants, meat remains the richest source of readily utilizable protein that helps improve satiety and fills a person up for longer (this makes protein-rich foods excellent for helping control weight gain, so that being overweight or obese may be prevented).
The protein from foods such as chicken or beef contain the essential amino acids in a proportion similar to that required by humans. Meat products have also been found to be an excellent source of the so-called “high biological value” protein. This means meat is an excellent source of eight essential amino acids for adults (lysine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine and valine) as well as histidine, which is considered to be an additional amino acid essential for children.
Lugay also added that beef products provide other minerals such as potassium and for pork, selenium, an important antioxidant that has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
“Indeed, if you put good old-fashioned healthy, lean and parasite-free meat in a nutrition analyzer, you’d find that meat is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat,” said Lugay, who reminded that his company, through its main brands Magnolia Fresh Chicken and Monterey for pork and beef, has been offering a variety of high-quality meat and complementary products that passed the National Meat Inspection Service inspection.
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