How to choose healthier meats
The anti-meat people always like to remind us that eating red meat causes all sorts of health concerns. They might be onto something, but new science says this is only the case if the meat is grilled, charred and well done.
At least, that’s according to research that was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention I Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018—a global exchange of new research.
To determine their conclusions, more than 85,000 women participated in two different long-term studies, and more than 17,000 men. None of the participants had high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or cancer when they began the study, but more than 37,000 of them developed high blood pressure over the course of the next 12 to 16 years.
Of the people who reported they ate at least two servings of red meat, poultry or fish per week, it was discovered that developing high blood pressure was 15 percent higher in those who preferred their food well done, as compared to those who ate rarer meat.
Further, high blood pressure was 17 percent higher in those who ate high levels of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs)—chemicals that form when meat protein is charred or exposed to high heat.
Researchers discovered this was true regardless of the amount and type of meat people consumed.
Bottom line: Cook meat at lower temperatures, don’t char it, and eat it on the rarer side to avoid high blood pressure!
Why might this be the case?
Researchers say chemicals produced when you cook meat a high temperatures causes oxidative stress, insulin resistance and inflammation, all of which are believed to increase your risk of developing high blood pressure.
If you’re someone who’s scared to eat rare meat because—like me—you grew up in the 80s with a mother who cooked the shit out of pork chops (and served the overcooked, leathery tasteless chops with disgusting Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup), you might be hard to convince. Undercooked pork would give you Trichinosis, you were told, while undercooked poultry meant you were sure to get salmonella, and undercooked beef meant E.coli, right?
Here’s a statistic to maybe qualm your fears: Between 2008 and 2012 in the United States, there was only 0.1 reported case of Trichinosis (also called trichinellosis) out of every 1 million people. This accounts for a total of just 15 cases per year in the entire country. And many of these cases were linked to bear meat, not even pork. Read more here.
Admittedly, food poisoning from fish, chicken and beef is more common; however, it’s easy to avoid if you choose your meat wisely.
In light of this, let’s talk about selecting quality beef today…
Here are some tips for selecting beef that will be better for your health, and will ensure you don’t get food poisoning:
Today, most things have been industrialized and mechanized. It has made meat-production more efficient, but it hasn’t been great for our health. Meat today compared to traditional farming methods has fewer vitamins and minerals, and also has unfavourable fatty acid ratios—meaning higher levels of inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids, and less healthier Omega 3s. Not to mention, hormones and antibiotics and herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, toxins—all of the bad things.
In short, most beef you buy at the supermarket today is the kind of meat I just described…
Here is a breakdown of less good to better. It goes without saying, three-star beef is best.
I call to call this “anonymous” and cheap, supermarket beef. Maybe it’s frozen, maybe it’s fresh, but it’s unmarked and there’s no way of knowing anything about it. All you know is it came from a cow (you think).
Hormone and antibiotic-free beef.
Three Star Beef:
100 percent grass fed and organic. This means the cow lived his life foraging for his own meals each day, outside on a pasture. Usually you’ll also be able to find out what farm the cow was from, and do some research about the farm if you so desire. This beef will also be hormone and antibiotic-free.
And while we’re at it, let’s talk a bit about how to select a good-tasting steak…
Always look for the following in your steak:
Fewer muscle groups within the cut (multiple muscles means more connective tissue, which is tough to eat).
Little connective tissue (Again, connective tissue doesn’t render like fat does, so you’ll be stuck with a tough piece of meat).
Little to medium amount of fat marbling (if you like fat, go for medium marbling)
Fine clusters of muscle fibers that feel soft to touch
Eat the meat. Just eat it wisely.