Over the last few years there has been a growing trend towards vegetarian and vegan diets as horror stories about red meat, cholesterol and saturated fats have made people think that meats are best avoided.
While it’s always a good idea to try to get more fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet, eating meat has a lot of health benefits. In fact, meat is a core part of the Paleo diet.
The most obvious benefit of eating meat is that it is rich in protein. A serving of beef or chicken supplies around half of the amount of protein that the average adult needs per day. If you are an athlete and need more than the average amount of protein, then it makes sense to get as much as you can from food rather than spending a lot of money on expensive supplements.
If the recent scares about antibiotics and drugs being used in farm animals have left you worried, then try to eat grass-fed beef from ethical farms. The Paleo diet is based on the idea of eating food that is as close as possible to the kinds of things our ancestors would have eaten. Grass-fed beef and free-range chicken fit this perfectly.
Protein is not the only thing that is found in meats. Other important nutrients which are abundant in beef and other meats include iron, zinc and vitamin B.
Iron is used by the body’s red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. Low iron levels can cause a lack of energy, behavioural issues and learning problems.
Zinc helps the body to build muscle mass and is also important for brain health and the strength of your immune system. A serving of sirloin steak provides you with almost half of the RDA of zinc.
There are several B vitamins present in lean red meats. Vitamin B12 promotes a healthy nervous system, while vitamin B6 is beneficial for the immune system. Riboflavin is important for keeping your skin and eyes healthy and niacin is used by the digestive system.
Staying Healthy by Eating Paleo
Following the Paleo diet means eliminating processed foods and refined carbohydrates from your diet and instead eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality meats, nuts, eggs and tubers. This diet promotes satiety and will leave you feeling stronger and more energetic.
Isn’t Fat Bad?
Many people have been taught that dietary fat and cholesterol are the cause of weight gain and high blood cholesterol. In truth, this is an incredibly simplified way of looking at diets and health. Dietary fat is calorie-dense and if you eat too much of it, you will gain weight. However, if you eat sensible portions and fill up on lower-calorie vegetables, you won’t get fat.
Dietary cholesterol was blamed for raising blood cholesterol for a long time, but more recent studies have found that there is no link between the two and there are many health benefits associated with eating dairy produce.