Healthy Diet: Eating Meat

Many of us enjoy eating meat, although not always in the right proportion to other foods. The healthy balance of meat on your plate is less than many people think.While meat is nutritious, meat products contain a lot of fat – especially saturated fat.

Healthy eating involves moderating the amount (and type) of fat we eat. In general, we need to cut down from our current total of 40 per cent of our calories coming from fat to 35, or even 30, per cent. Meat-eaters get a hefty whack of their fat intake from meat products, which provide 25 per cent of the fat in the typical diet.


What is a portion of meat or protein alternatives?

– 3 medium slices beef, pork, ham, lamb, liver, kidney, chicken or oily fish – 50-70g (2-3oz)

– 115-150g (4-5oz) white fish (not fried in batter)

– 3 fish fingers

– 2 eggs (up to 4 a week)

– 5 tablespoons baked beans or other cooked pulses, lentils, dhal – 200g (7oz)

– 2 tablespoons nuts, peanut butter or other nut products – 60g


Eat meat, not meat products

If you enjoy meat, the best type to eat is lean meat and not fatty meat products which short-change you on the amount of meat they contain. Meat products include sausages, pate, meat pies, meat pastes, burgers, koftas, keemas, black and white pudding, faggots, frankfurters, haggis, luncheon meat, meat paste, polony, salami, saveloy and so on…

Why are meat and protein alternatives good for you?

We need to eat moderate amounts of lean meat, fish and vegetarian alternatives because they are good sources of protein which we need for growth and repair. Meat also provides iron and vitamin B12 which prevent anaemia, plus zinc. Magnesium is another mineral found in meat, which works with other ones to promote growth, healthy bones and skin.


How much meat should you eat?

Healthy eating guidelines suggest that if you eat an average amount or meat – 8-10 portions a week or 90g (3oz) a day of red meat (such as beef, lamb, pork or veal), you should not eat any more. If you eat 12-14 portions a week you should cut down in order to reduce your risk or colon cancer, and possibly of breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer. Meat-eaters should also eat lots of vegetables, fruit and starchy foods. Two portions of protein food per day is thought to be enough for most people, but if you are very active you might need more.

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