April 19th

theresa albert - my friend in food


Reasons to Reduce the Red…

Roast Beef

Excepted from Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck

The 10 of Spades-Have Your Steak and Eat it too!

There is no longer any doubt that we need to reduce our consumption of red meat (which includes pork), and the reasons are mounting. Many experts (including one of the doctors at my practice) insist that we have to eat a completely plant-based diet if we want to avoid the major diseases that plague us. I like my steak or burger, once in a while, but I am serving less conventionally raised meat in my home. That’s not a step for everyone, but I know that my loved ones count on me to lead the way.

Here is why our red meat consumption has to go down.

  1. It’s too much of a bad thing: Read any of the popular, conscientious food journalists and you’ll find they all agree on a major point: conventionally raised animals live unpleasant lives in poor conditions and on feed that is either indigestible or insufficient. This practice turns out meat that is not good for us (cancer, diabetes, heart disease) and we eat too much of it. The key issue is that the grain fed to cows (rather than their natural food, grass) gives their meat more of the bad saturated fat and less of the good omega-3 fat.
  2. The negative impact upon our planet and its people of raising cows for meat or dairy is enormous. Cattle excrete large quantities of methane gas, which is one of the greenhouse gases affecting our atmosphere. Plus, if we fed all that grain to people instead of cows (who turn it into concentrated protein for us at great expense), we would have fewer, if any, hungry people in the world. When I consider what to put on my plate, this misuse of resources does factor into my decision.
  3. When cold protein hits hot grills or pans, a chemical reaction creates two mutagens: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). When ingested, these molecules cause changes to DNA that can lead to cancer. Beef is the biggest offender, chicken and fish less so.

There are ways to eat meat and, with a little shift, make a huge difference in your health, and that of the planet and its animals.

  • Statistics are showing that Canadians are reducing consumption of beef, processed meats and pork, and moving toward chicken and fish. This is a good trend. The recommendation is to indulge in meat no more than once per week, and the more often you replace any meat with poultry, fish, beans, nuts or soy for protein, the greater impact on your health.
  • Switch from beef to lamb once in a while, too. It is easier to find and cheaper to buy grass-fed lamb than grass-fed beef. Buying a frozen lamb leg and roasting the whole thing can get you Sunday dinner for four, a few sandwiches for lunches and some soup from the bone for $20. When you want your steak or burger, spend more on a slightly smaller portion of organic, or at least grass-fed, beef. Because you are eating less beef less often, you can afford to indulge in better quality.
  • Learn how to cook meat to reduce the formation of the bad HCAs and PAHs. Simply switch up your cooking method to any style that keeps the meat wet, such as braising, stewing, and roasting at lower temperatures. And if you grill, rub or marinate the meat beforehand. Even a quick dip or rub with any combo spices/oil/acid before the meat hits the flames will reduce the HCAs and PAHs .

In the end, only you can decide how much is too much and no one will judge you for it.  Go in informed and do your best, it is the simple shifts that are the lasting ones. See how blogger Heather handles the topic.

We’d love for you to share your comments and tips!

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert

I love food, try to watch my weight, know more than I want to about healthy living (sometimes I wish I knew less so I wouldn’t feel so guilty when I stumble), am a daughter, sister, friend, mom and wife who worries and scurries the meals onto the table. It is for all these reasons that I completed my nutrition, RNCP designation, wrote my book, hosted my Food Network show, consult with food companies to urge them to get it right (or at least better), constantly write about it, research it, all of this so I can cut through the nutrition and food “news” clutter. Happy to share with friends!


One Response

    June 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm Reply

    Very interesting. A lot of new information for me here. Thanks for the wake up call.

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