Red meat versus poultry, which is better for you?

Long has been the debate about what type of meat is better for you, red meat or poultry. The answer is that both meats have both dietary advantages and disadvantages. The key is to make sure that you are eating the best possible red meat and poultry types in moderation. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of both red meat and poultry. By making wise meat choices you can enjoy the taste and nutritional benefits of both kinds of meat.

Advantages and disadvantages of red meat:

Lean red meat, (this includes beef, veal, and pork) is rich in nutrients such as vitamin B12, niacin, and vitamin B6. Beef, veal, and pork are also excellent sources of high-quality protein, iron and zinc.

Eating red meat enhances the absorption of certain types of iron found in plant foods. This is why it makes so much sense to have side dishes of greens (such as a side salad) and other plant foods with your meat. The zinc in meat is also absorbed better than the zinc in grains and legumes.

Eating lean beef, veal, and pork is just as effective in lowering bad LDL cholesterol and raising good HDL cholesterol in your blood as is eating lean poultry and fish. Because about half of the fat in lean beef is mono-saturated, lean beef is a healthy replacement for other foods with saturated fats.

In order to consider red meats as a healthy choice you must select lean cuts, trim visible fat, prepare the meat without adding fat, and eat reasonable portions.

You should be looking for cuts labeled "lean" or "extra lean." According to federal labeling regulations, "cuts of meat labeled `lean' must contain ten grams of fat or less per three-ounce serving, and cuts labeled `extra lean' must contain five grams of fat or less per three-ounce serving."

Recent studies have found that consumption of fresh red meat was associated with moderately increased risks of rectal cancer but had little association with risk of colon cancer.

Advantages and disadvantages of poultry

Chicken and turkey are often considered healthy, low-fat alternatives to beef, but this is not always true. For example, a piece of dark meat (i.e. a chicken thigh, with the skin on) can have a great deal of fat in it. You have to make the right poultry choices in order to make eating poultry a healthy alternative. Skinless white-meat chicken or turkey is the healthiest form of poultry and is lowest in fat and calories.

As with any meat, you will loose the dietary advantages of eating lean cuts if you deep-fry it, drown it in sauces or gravies, or cover it with cheese. Marinades and using herbs to season and retain juices in your meat are a much healthier way to add flavor.

Chicken and turkey actually contain about the same amount of cholesterol per serving as beef. But poultry is a good source of some B vitamins that aren't as plentiful in beef.

A common miss-conception is that removing the skin of the chicken before cooking it will remove some of the fat and calories. In reality, the fat and calories are about the same whether the skin is removed before or after cooking. So, because skinless poultry tends to dry out during cooking, keep the skin on while cooking to hold in the moisture and retain the flavor. Removing the skin and any remaining fat before eating it is what is important.

Chicken consumption was weakly associated with decreased risk of colorectal cancer, whereas fish consumption had little association with either colon or rectal cancer. If you are looking for more variety in your diet beyond what you can find in red meats and poultry, try fish. Fish is another great source of protein and it too possesses disease-fighting and healthy living potential when wisely prepared and consumed.

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