Have you ever been at a crossroads deciding which meat is best for you?
Meats are a great source of animal protein. But first, let's get the word meat clarified. Often misunderstood by many, meat isn't only cow meat. Meat can be the edible flesh and food source of any animal (mammal or bird) - cow, goat, sheep, pig, chicken, etc. Meats from all these animals have specific names. The most common edible ones in Nigeria are cow/ bull - beef, goat - chevon, sheep (ram) - mutton, pig - pork, chicken - chicken, and turkey - turkey.
Meat names sorted; do you know they've got their various health benefits too? The question then is - which is healthier? Beef and chicken are both excellent sources of protein and different vitamins and minerals. Let's take a quick glance at their benefits.
Beef is a typical red meat and considered unhealthy due to the high concentration of iron it carries. Saturated fats in beef can elevate your risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and other cardiovascular issues. Numerous studies have also indicated that high consumption of red and processed meats may lead to increased risk of certain cancers. But do you know that individual portions of lean beef have a high percentage of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats?
Healthy fatty acids like stearic acid are found in beef from grass-fed cows. This saturated fat works in lowering cholesterol by reducing intestinal cholesterol absorption. It also helps in warding off heart diseases by preventing the formation of fatty deposits within arteries and arterial clotting.
There's more! Grass-fed cows are amongst the best possible source of Conjugate Linoleic Acid (CLA), a unique type of fatty acid that can't be produced by our bodies but gotten only from food. The saturated fatty acid is potent in combating certain cancers, inflammation, asthma, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases and a host of many other health conditions. It's also known to burn body fats correctly, increase metabolic rate and preserve muscle tissues. Amazing, right?
Chicken, also classified as white meat, comes loaded with nutrients and is a top source of low-fat animal protein. Usually the go-to meat for weight watchers, chicken has been labelled to be healthier and lower in cholesterol than beef. But on the contrary, chicken isn't 100% healthier. Chicken does have fat too.
Though stored differently and in various parts of their bodies than cows, their fats are stored under the skin and in their wings and thighs. A portion of chicken meat in these areas may be as detrimental as consuming fatty beef. The leanest and healthiest part of a chicken is the breast area which has no fat deposit.
If watching your cholesterol and aiming to improve your chances at optimal health, lean proteins like skinless chicken/turkey, fish, or beans are great options. As for beef, you've seen the benefits so choose fresh lean cuts and of course, avoid processed meat. Whatever your choice of meat, cooking methods extremely matter when considering healthy eating.
So what would it be - beef or chicken?