Inspite of the evidence on the nutritional value of meat, people often ask this question: Should we eat meat or not?

One of the reasons red meat has been getting bad press in recent years is because most meat is high in cholesterol. However that is not to say that one cannot enjoy a serving of meat every now and then.

Let us briefly look at the good side of red meat. Meat is a wonderful source of complete proteins which are vital for proper body functioning. It is a very good source of important minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, among others. Meat is a good source also of essential vitamins including the whole set of the B group vitamins, which together are necessary for effective energy metabolism. Meat also happens to be, well, tasty!
Below are some tips on how meat lovers like myself can eat meat wisely and avoid the pains and penalties associated with unhealthy consumption thereof.

How to eat meat
Avoid binge-eating of meat. A healthy serving of meat is 100g it can be likened to a deck of playing cards or a computer mouse. One serving of meat is enough for one meal.

Trim off all the visible fat from the meat before you cook. When eating out, trim it off before you eat. Remember that meat has both visible and invisible fat, both of which contribute to the fat and energy content.
Limit processed meats such as sausages, and other luncheon meats. They are most likely to contain unhealthy additives, excess fats and sodium. You may eat these once in a while.

Alternate animal sources of protein with plant sources. For example, instead of eating beef or pork on two consecutive days, replace some of it with beans or peas or soy.

Eat more fish than beef

Trim off the chicken skin to avoid the cholesterol.
Avoid frying the meat. It has got its own fat as it is. No need to add more. Meat can be boiled, grilled, steamed or baked. Use different spices to bring out the flavour instead of frying.
Avoid roasting your meat on direct heat in the name of reducing the fat content, or improving the flavour. That half-roasted (boiled) meat that we like so much is not so good after all. Burnt or charred meat contains heterocyclic amines (HAs) which increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Focus on being healthy on balancing your diet. On top of the usual energy foods like posho, bread, rice and protein like meat and so on, make it a point to get yourself a serving or two of vegetables for every meal.
At the end of the day, meat is not a bad food. Eliminating meat does not make one’s diet perfect. Ensure that your diet contains all the essential nutrients in adequate proportions and your body will know exactly what to do with them.

Meat is good food. It is an excellent source of many nutrients if eaten wisely. Eat it in moderation and you will not need to exclude it from your menu. If you have an illness or condition that demands you be wary of meat then consult a dietician on how to get the maximum out of this amazing food.

The writer is a dietician

SOURCE: Daily Monitor