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Red Meat Vs White Meat: Which Is Healthier For You

Red Meat Vs White Meat
Red Meat Or White Meat

 Regarding meats, we always make a big difference: red meat and white meat, but beyond the color of it, today we show you the properties of each of them and tricks to get the most out of them.

Meat is all that mainly muscular animal tissue that is consumed as food. According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, today's meat production is almost five times higher than in the early 60s. We have gone from producing 70 million tons to, in 2017, producing more than 330 million.

Depending on its origin, the meat can be red or white. Both red and white meats constitute an excellent supply of high-quality proteins and for this reason, their consumption is important in order to maintain a balanced diet. In addition to proteins, they provide essential minerals and vitamins for the proper functioning of our body.

Here we will look at their nutritional differences and which of them is healthier for you.

White Meat vs. Red Meat

Meat is defined as all that animal tissue, mainly muscular, that is consumed as food. "Meat" is a commercial and colloquial concept that we apply to terrestrial animals, generally vertebrates, that is, mammals, birds, and reptiles. In this context, depending on the visual aspect of the meat, it can be divided into red and white.

Red Meat

Red meat is all that animal tissue intended for human consumption that has a reddish or pink coloration in a raw state and that, from the nutritional point of view, refers to all that meat that comes from mammals. The red color by which the red meat is identified in its raw state is due to the high concentration of myoglobin, since it usually exceeds 1% while in white meat it does not reach 0.5%.

Thus, red meat is that which is obtained from veal, pork (although if it is young it is considered white), lamb, goat, beef, cow, bull, deer, wild boar or horse, mainly.

White Meat

White meat is any animal tissue intended for human consumption that has a whitish or pale coloration in a raw state and that, from the nutritional point of view, refers to all that meat that comes from birds. White meats have a pink or whitish color when raw because they have very low proportions of myoglobin inside. White meat is often considered to be derived from poultry, fish being excluded from this group as well.

Although this meat does not come from mammals, there are exceptions since meat from young pigs (suckling pigs), rabbits, and suckling lambs are often included in this category.

Nutritional Difference between White and Red Meat

1. Protein Content

Both red and white meats constitute an excellent supply of high-quality proteins and for this reason, their consumption is important in order to maintain a balanced diet.

Due to its reddish color and intense flavor, it may seem that red meat has more protein than white meat. But nothing could be further from the truth. The meat with the highest protein content is white. While red meat provides between 20 and 26 grams of protein per 100 grams of the product, white meat provides 33 grams of protein per 100 grams of the product.

2. Iron Content

Although the protein content of red meat is lower, but the iron content is noticeably higher. Iron is an essential mineral for the body, as it is needed for synthesis of hemoglobin (the oxygen-transporting protein in red blood cells), growth and development of the body, as well as for the synthesis of hormones, and regeneration of connective tissue.

In this sense, red meat is one of the foods that give us more iron. While white meat gives us 1-1.5 mg of iron per 100 grams, red meat gives us 2.5-4 mg of iron per 100 grams of the product. Regular consumption of red meat, but not in excess, can be a good way to guarantee the consumption of quality iron, that is, it is easily absorbed and helps prevent nutritional anemia as it also offers folic acid and proteins that favor the use of this mineral

3. Myoglobin Content

The first difference between red meat and white meat is in the levels of myoglobin, which is a protein with a round structure that stores oxygen and is made up of polypeptide chains. Myoglobin is a type of protein found in muscles. Myoglobin is the main factor in the presence of red and white meat.

Red meat is meat high in myoglobin. Examples of animals that produce it are cows, sheep, goats, or pigs. Meanwhile, white meat contains low levels of myoglobin. Meats that include white meat include chicken, duck, and turkey.

4. Fat Content

The difference between red meat and white meat can also be recognized by their fat content. The fat content in red meat is much higher than in white. This also makes it tastier and more intense in flavor. Red meat has higher saturated fat (bad fat) content than white meat that can increase cholesterol levels and stimulate weight gain. This is one of the main reasons why you have to reduce the consumption of red meat.

Again, the content of unsaturated fat (good fat) in red meat is also lower than in white meat. Therefore, when viewed from the fat content, white meat is considered safer than red meat. Hence, white meat can be eaten more often. In addition, white is more easily digested than red.

5. Vitamin Content

Vitamin content can also be used as a benchmark in recognizing the difference between red meat and white meat. Various types of B vitamins ranging from vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, to folic acid can be met by red meat and white meat.

However, large amounts of vitamin B12 are only found in red animal flesh. Although poultry meat also has vitamin B12, the amount is only 2 percent of that of red meat. Meeting the needs of vitamin B12 is very important to support the process of formation of red blood cells, the formation of DNA in cells, and the delivery of nerve signals.

6. Mineral Content

The difference between red meat and white meat can then be seen from the mineral content. Based on the mineral content, these two types of meat both contain iron, zinc, and potassium which are needed for the formation of red blood cells, cell regeneration, and muscle contraction.

However, the mineral content in red meat tends to be higher than in white meat. It can be concluded that red meat is richer in nutrients but also higher in fat than white meat. So, you have to recognize your body's health condition before choosing what meat to eat.


Dangers of Excessive Meat Consumption

Does Red Meat Cause Cancer

Red meat is rich in nutrients. However, various studies have found that consumption in large quantities and regularly can cause people who consume them to be more at risk of developing cancer, especially colon cancer. The ingestion of iron of animal origin favors the formation of nitrosamines in the intestine. Iron is an oxidant and favors the formation of nitrosamines in the intestine, carcinogenic components. These nitrosamines are potent carcinogens and increase the risk of colon cancer.

While the WHO has never placed white meat in the group of potential carcinogens, it has done so with red meat. WHO placed red meat in group 2 of carcinogens, which is that group of potentials that can cause cancer. There are suspicions that red meat can cause cancer, but it is under study. It simply cannot be stated with full surety that excessive and prolonged consumption does not increase the risk of cancer. With normal consumption, there would never be problems, but simply its carcinogenic effect is being studied because there are suspicions. But we cannot say, to this day, that red meat is carcinogenic.

Does Red Meat Increase Uric Acid

Red meats and organ meats contain higher amounts of purines. Purines are a product of protein degradation and contribute to the formation of uric acid, hence gout sufferers should refrain from high consumption of red meat since the deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints cause gout or inflammation of the joints and the high consumption of red meat can worsen these pathologies. Purines can be difficult substances to eliminate in people with gout, hyperuricemia, or fatty liver. It is recommended to avoid the consumption of red meat in these cases.

Since white meat contains lower purine content it is advisable to take white meat if you have a uric acid metabolic disorder.

How to Consume Red Meat to Take Care of It Health

Although red meat is a noble food as long as we choose suitable options such as fresh and lower-fat alternatives, its excessive consumption (more than two servings a day) can carry some health hazards.

Like any protein food, excessive consumption of red meat can represent an excessive intake of proteins and this causes a renal overload as well as the acidification of the internal environment that causes liver, kidney, and bone problems at the same time, but always when consumed 3 grams of protein per kilo of weight per day.

Specifically, consuming around 350 grams of red meat a day has been associated with a higher risk of stroke as well as causing an increase in the consumption of purines that can raise uric acid in blood resulting in joint problems.

Ideally, if you seek to make an appropriate consumption of red meat is not to exceed two servings a day and do it with a frequency of two to three times a week, always accompanied by fruits and vegetables, water, and other foods as well as healthy habits.

The consumption of white meat is considered healthier since it has similar nutritional value but contains less fat and less purines, which when consumed in excess are directly related to the appearance of cardiovascular diseases.

If we abuse white meat, we can exceed protein and suffer the same consequence as with red meat: especially kidney and liver problems, as well as an increase in the excretion of calcium in urine that culminates in negatively affecting bone health.

How to Process the Meat

The difference between red meat and white meat can also be seen in the way they are processed. This is especially true in selecting the portion of the meat before cooking it. For red meat, choose the muscle as much as possible and avoid the ribs. You can obtain lean red meats that are the most recommended from animals such as veal, cow, pork, or lamb, the most appropriate cuts being the loin, sirloin, contra, vacuum, leg, and shoulder.

Although, white meats are the most recommended when reducing fat in the diet and taking care of the stroke, however, not all white meats are equally healthy but it will depend on the cut chosen and whether or not you remove the skin of the birds while cooking, as they can be high in fat and cholesterol. Always choose lean options such as breasts, removing visible fat before cooking.

At the time of cooking, in addition to choosing the appropriate red meat, we recommend using cooking methods whose temperature is moderate since cooking at high temperatures and direct heat can lead to scorching or burning of the meat that causes toxic substances.

Cook meat by boiling or steaming at a moderate temperature.  Avoid frying or grilling meat as much as possible, because this process carries the risk of causing carcinogenic substances. Also, prohibit yourself from eating charred meat. Before cooking, marinate the meat with garlic, lemon juice, or olive oil to reduce the formation of carcinogenic substances.

Red or White Meats, Which One to Choose

When comparing red and white meats we can see that both have their advantages and disadvantages, so there is no better option than another, but the important thing is to make a moderate consumption of both, including them in the framework of a healthy diet and always choosing lean alternatives, both red and white meat.

Likewise, it is important to clarify that neither red meat nor white meat is essential in the diet, although their consumption can facilitate access to quality proteins as well as highly available minerals such as iron.

Neither red meat is a nutritional horror nor white meat the best alternative, but everything will depend on the cut chosen and the way in which we include them in our usual diet.

In general, terms, the consumption of three or four servings per week of meat is recommended, allowing it to be red meat three or four times a month.

Beyond that, we can go overboard with fats and cholesterol if we always choose the less healthy options, but we should exceed two daily servings seven days a week to suffer these consequences and overcome in total with the diet, the 3 grams of protein per kilo of weight per day.

The most advisable thing in the diet is to consume white meat alternately with red meat, that is, eat two or three times a week in servings that do not exceed 350 grams per day and within the framework of a healthy diet, along with fruits and various vegetables, water, and other quality foods.


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