Is there a right and wrong way of including meat into your diet? Even though meat is not harmful per se, we have a lot of bad habits related to its consumption. Here are four to-dos for everyone who eats meat on a regular basis.
Eat nose to tail
Compared to our ancestors, we lack variety in our style of meat eating. They ate anything and everything that moved: rodents, fish, large mammals, and birds. They also ate the whole animal, blood, skin, and organs included. The modern human, on the other hand, has reduced meat consumption to basically chicken, pork, and beef; and more importantly to muscle meat only. There are two major problems with this: firstly, muscle is the least nutritious part of the animal. Liver, in contrast, is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, containing not only more minerals and vitamins but also much higher quantities of them than any muscle meat. Secondly, focusing solely on muscle meat can create a chronic excess or deficiency in some amino acids. A good rule is to try and eat animals “nose to tail”. Go beyond a steak and include those nutritious organ meats now and then too.
Use low temperatures and marinade
Everyone loves fried and grilled meats! They smell and taste better but that comes at a price. When meat is cooked using high-temperatures (above 300°F/150°C) carcinogenic substances are formed. That’s why it’s advisable to use slow-cooking, sous-vide, or similar types of gentle heat treating as often as possible. If you don’t want to abstain from barbecuing completely, you should always marinade your meat. It has been observed that formation of these carcinogens is significantly reduced when using marinades. You will get best results with ingredients like garlic, beer, red wine, lemon juice or olive oil.
Avoid processed meat, look for quality
Who doesn’t love bacon! Processed meat is very convenient and tastes great, but that’s the problem. It promotes overeating, and its regular consumption is associated with an increased risk for a host of modern diseases. Processed meat is the reason meat in general gets a bad rep, so it should be our number one priority to cut down on it. Going for non-processed fresh meat from animals that lived naturally is the safest option. That’s how you get all the nutritional benefits while reducing chances of over-eating and diseases.
Well-balanced diet is the key
I like how Michael Pollan, the author of the bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma, sums up nutrition: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Even though meat can be very nutritious, and delicious, we shouldn’t overdo it. It’s just one of the many things our body needs to thrive. So make room for plenty of veggies and don’t forget about a large portion of movement, sleep, and pleasure too! A healthy lifestyle will go a long way towards reducing any nutrition-related imperfection.