Scientists believe that giving even small amounts of red meat to children makes it easier for them to achieve a balanced diet. While it is possible to get all the nutrients you need from a vegetarian diet, the advantage of meat is that it's a much more concentrated source of nutrition. Plant-based diets can be so bulky that under-fives may get full up without receiving enough calories for growth. Meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein, but it also supplies concentrated amounts of iron and zinc.
Here we present a small meat guide to help you make more healthy selections. The fat and calories figures are for raw meat (unless stated).
Beef and Veal
- Average per 100g: 136 calories, 5.1g fat (beef); 106 calories, 1.7g fat (veal).
- Beef steaks and joints are low in fat, provided only the lean is eaten.
- Minced beef can be higher in fat, with half being saturated fat - the type strongly linked with heart disease.
- Stewing steak is as rich in B vitamins, iron and zinc as fillet.
- Average per 100g: 156 calories, 8.3g fat.
- Lamb is one of the fattiest meats, with the leanest cuts twice as fatty as their beef equivalent.
- Lamb is one of the best absorbed sources of iron and a rich supply of zinc.
- An average serving has more than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12, needed for healthy red blood cells.
- Average per 100g: 104 calories, 3.4g fat.
- All liver is rich in vitamin A, which is required for the immune system as well as healthy skin, eyes and mucous passages. Richest is calves' liver, which supplies the RDA of vitamin A in just one teaspoon. One portion supplies virtually all of the daily requirement for iron and Zinc.
- Chicken livers provide the richest source of folic acid, with nearly five times the RDA in 100g.
- All types of liver provide enough vitamin B12 in one portion to satisfy the body's requirements for a month.
- Liver isn't high in fat, but it is high in cholesterol.
- Average per 100g: 91 calories, 2.6g fat.
- Kidney is an excellent source of B vitamins, iron and zinc, but is much lower in vitamin A.
- It is one of the few good sources of the antioxidant mineral selenium, credited with protecting against heart disease and cancer.
- Average per 100g: 367 calories, 32.1g fat (sausages); 265 calories, 20.5g fat (beefburgers).
- Pies, sausages, bacon and burgers are usually less healthy than lean meat.
- Most products are high in saturated fat, trans fats and salt - all of which can encourage heart disease.
- They also contain nitrites, which are essential to prevent food poisoning but can lead to the formation of cancer-promoting substances called nitrosamines in the stomach.
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