The 5 Types of Meat and Their Benefits

The consumption of meat is considered beneficial for health. Each of the varieties has a series of particular characteristics. We'll tell you about them.
The 5 Types of Meat and Their Benefits
Saúl Sánchez

Written and verified by el nutricionista Saúl Sánchez.

Last update: 28 December, 2022

Meat should be present in our diets on a regular basis. It stands out for its high nutritional density, which helps you prevent deficits that could affect your overall state of health. As you well know, there are several types of meat, and each of them has their own characteristics.

The best thing is to alternate their presence in your diet. This ensures an adequate supply of essential micronutrients and fatty acids. Stay with us as we look at the different types of meat and their characteristics.

Types of meat and their benefits

1. Beef

One of the most popular types of meat is beef. It’s a very palatable food, and comes within the category of red meat. It has a high concentration of proteins that help meet daily requirements.

It should be borne in mind that, according to a study published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism , it’s important to ensure an intake of at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day in sedentary people. Otherwise, problems related to muscle tissue, such as sarcopenia, could be produced.

In addition, beef has the particularity to contain a lot of heme iron. This is the type with the best absorption rate. To maximize its availability, its consumption is recommended along with a good dose of vitamin C.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that an iron deficiency causes anemia, as stated by research published in the journal The Medical Clinics of North America. This pathology is characterized by an inefficient supply of oxygen to the cells.

On the other hand, red meat is a source of other important essential micronutrients, such as zinc. This element plays a decisive role in the production of testosterone at the testicular level and in promoting good immune function.

Finally, mention must be made of the type of fatty acids that beef contains. These can vary depending on the feeding of the animal. If you offer them fodder, the meat will have more saturated fat. If it’s raised in the wild and consumes grass, the proportion of unsaturated lipids will increase.

2. Pork

Pork is another of the most common meats in our diets. It’s considered to be either red or white depending on the feeding of the animal. If feed (fodder) is their main food, it would be part of the first type.

Pork shares many characteristics with beef. It’s a good source of protein and cis-type fatty acids. Of course, it’s advisable not to consume it fried so that a transformation of the spatial configuration of the fatty acids doesn’t take place.

In the section on micronutrients, pork is still considered a source of essential minerals. Among them are iron, zinc, and selenium. The latter acts as an antioxidant. This is evidenced by a study published in the journal Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine .

Another consideration to keep in mind is that not all pork products are considered beneficial. One example are sausages. These foods are made with a series of additives that can put human health at risk in the medium term.

Pork meat.
Pork can be considered red or white, according to the animal’s diet.

3. Lamb meat

Lamb meat is also in the red meat group. In fact, its presence in the diet has increased in recent years. It’s is a meat that provides proteins with all the essential amino acids, as well as B vitamins.

In addition, it has the particularity of having significant amounts of vitamin A, a nutrient necessary to maintain good visual health. This element can also be found in the entrails of the pig.

Likewise, lamb meat is a source of iron, zinc, copper, phosphorus and selenium. For this reason, it can be included in the diet to prevent deficiencies in essential nutrients. However, most of the iron it provides is non-heme.

From a fat point of view, it’s considered a fairly lean product. It has 12% lipids, but this can increase to as much as 15%, depending on the part of the animal that’s consumed.

4. Chicken meat

Within the group of white meats, we can start by talking about chicken. It’s one of the most popular products worldwide, due to its rapid growth and ease of production. It contains proteins of high biological value, but has fewer calories than other types of meat.

Chicken meat contains less iron than the previous ones, but it can provide calcium, magnesium, and a small dose of vitamin D. This last element is necessary in order to prevent a large number of complex and chronic pathologies, according to a study published in the journal Reviews in Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders.

Another of the differentiating points of chicken meat is its price, as it tends to be cheaper. It’s one of the central elements of diets that are focused on muscle gain or fat loss.

Now, you have to be careful with chicken meat or its derivatives when dining out. This product is usually served breaded and fried, which reduces its quality and increases its energy value.

It is always best to prepare grilled, baked, stewed, or boiled chicken. Some of the parts of the bird are more tender, so they have better organoleptic characteristics. An example would be thighs.

5. Turkey meat

Turkey meat is very similar to chicken. It is, once again, a type of food that stands out for its protein content. It’s a very lean meat that’s also usually included in diets to lose weight or gain muscle mass.

It’s usually prepared grilled or roasted, although it’s also served with different dressings and marinades. In this sense, it is advisable to avoid accompanying sauces, especially processed ones. These products are high in calories.

From the point of view of micronutrients, it’s worth highlighting the content of zinc, selenium, potassium and phosphorus. All these minerals are essential and necessary for the human body to function properly. Group B vitamins are appear in abundant quantities.

Turkey meat is simple to prepare and contains nutrients that help ensure the proper functioning of the body. Among them, special mention must be made of potassium, a mineral that has an antagonistic effect to sodium regarding blood pressure.

Is it bad to eat meat?

In recent years, the need to consume meat has been questioned. On the one hand, health issues have been raised. On the other, arguments are made from an ecological point of view.

Current research isn’t able to provide solid evidence that meat intake, in the context of a varied diet, is harmful to health. It’s actually the complete opposite. Its consumption ensures a high supply of proteins and other nutrients.

However, it’s a completely different matter with processed meats. These certainly can cause harm to humans. Not because of their concentration in meat as such, but because of the addition of food additives such as nitrites. These elements could increase the risk of developing cancer, as stated in a study published in Nutrients.

We also need to take into account that the cooking methods are vital in order to evaluate its healthiness. Avoid using extreme heat as well as cooking them breaded. In this way, you prevent a transformation of fatty acids that will worsen the food’s nutritional value.

Types of meat.
The different types of meats have a greater or lesser presence in diets according to culture, availability, costs and ideologies.

Is red meat or white meat better?

In addition to the debate on the consumption of meat in the diet, there’s another frequent debate that has to do with the intake of red meat or white meat. Red meat hasn’t been shown to be harmful to health in the context of a balanced and varied diet.

There’s some evidence that eating too much of it could have negative consequences in relation to certain parameters in the long term, but this evidence isn’t confirmed. For this reason,we cannot advise against its consumption or to limit it.

However, there’s one point that is often not taken into account. Something that largely marks the quality of the meat is its origin. The diet and lifestyle of the animal from which it comes determine the meat’s nutritional profile.

Therefore, rather than increasing one type of meat or another, it’s preferable to promote the presence in the diet of ecologically-produced meat. This ensures that the lipid profile of the product is optimal. This has a positive effect on the levels of inflammation in the body.

Meat is a healthy food

Meat should appear frequently in the diet. There are different types and each of them has its own peculiarities. However, it’s best to alternate its consumption to ensure an optimal supply of nutrients.

However, avoid processed versions. Both sausages and other meat products often contain additives and other substances of dubious health.

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