Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Choosing Meat

Do you eat meat? If so, you may be interested to know that the health communities at large do not disseminate truthful information about meat to consumers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you should keep the following in mind regarding which meats are healthy to consume:

  • Select for low-fat meats and chicken, and avoid eating high-fat ground beef or chicken with the skin.
  • Don't forget to count the fat and calories in cooking additives. For example, if you cook chicken in shortening, add the extra calories to your count.
  • Include fish in your diet, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout and herring.
  • Avoid organ meats such as liver, which are high in cholesterol.
  • Also avoid processed meats such as hot dogs, ham, sausage and lunch meats, which can be very high in sodium and other additives.
Even with our nation's health condition in the crisis it is, there still exists a great deal of misinformation from major news outlets, doctors, and other health sources about which meats are healthy to consume. In general, most meat you will find in grocery stores should be avoided. Why is this? Most grocery store meat is from factory farms, which neither maintains the integrity of the animal's health nor the environment. Maintaining the guidelines above can can actually cause more health problems to occur.

The following outlines correct ideologies in selecting healthy meats:

  • No matter how low-fat meat is, it will be unhealthy to consume if that meat is not naturally raised, organically produced, and fed proper types of feed.
  • Animals must live in a relatively stress-free environment with room to roam and grass and/or alfalfa to eat as their primary feed.
  • Meats must not contain antibiotics.
  • Meats must not contain steroids or growth hormones.
  • Meats from factory farms (which represents the majority of meat available) contain dangerous chemicals and additives including the above mentioned substances.
  • If the meat is from a healthy source, skin is not unhealthy to eat. The skin contains vitamins and other nutrients necessary for health. The same goes for other meat parts from the body such as the liver.
  • Meats like bacon and hot dogs are fine to eat occasionally as long as you know the source of the meat - i.e., the meat is pasture-raised, organic, not administered hormones, steroids, or antibiotics. Of course, use common sense. Avoid processed meats that are full of nitrates, chemicals, erythorbates, preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics. A good rule of thumb is, if the package does not read "organic", "hormone", "antibiotic-free", or "no hormones used", it's probably not safe to consume.
  • Do eat safe fish to include in your diet essential fatty acids such as Omega 3s.
For more information about eating healthy meats, visit Agriculture Society and read "Why Meat Gets The Heat" featured in the March 2008 issue of Healthy Beginnings.

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