For many of us meat is a key part of our diet. The average American will consume more than 222 pounds of meat and poultry in 2018. The USDA recently found that beef and pork consumption in the U.S. has decreased over the past decade, but the rate of consumption began to increase the past few years. The U.S. is still among the countries with the highest rate of meat consumption in the world.
“If you look at the items that consumers say they want more of in their diet, protein tops the list,” said David Portalatin, a Houston-based food industry adviser. With meat being such a prominent part of our diet, it’s important to keep your health and well-being in mind while planning your meals. Here are a few choices you can make to work toward a smarter, healthier diet.
Don’t Forget about Veggies
When you’re eating delicious burgers or fried chicken, it’s easy for fruits and vegetables to slip your mind. Try to include these in your meals as often as possible. One of the easiest ways you can do this is to make a salad to go with dinner. Salad is a very versatile side and you can incorporate fruits, vegetables, dressing, and just about anything else that you want into them.
Go for Grass-Fed Beef
Many beef cows are fed grain every day. But, grass is the natural bovine food source. Studies have shown that meat from cows that have eaten grass provides more nutrients than from cows who are fed grain. This includes vitamin A, vitamin B, and omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, grass-fed beef has been known to contain up to five times the omega-3s of grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef also contains more conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid which actually helps to reduce body fat.
Add Some Eggs
Eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They provide you with nutrients such as vitamin D and B12, which helps to lower your risk of heart disease. But, don’t limit yourself to breakfast when it comes to incorporating more of them into your diet. Poached or hard-boiled eggs go great in a salad at lunch or dinner. Just make sure not to overdo it, especially if you have high cholesterol or diabetes.
Keep Sodium Levels Low
Most foods contain some amount of sodium, though for many it’s not enough to have a significant effect on the body. Meats, particularly ham and shellfish, have the highest natural sodium contents. Despite this, the leading contributor of sodium in your diet is likely salt.
Many people add salt to the majority of their meals, meaning a diet that is much higher in sodium. Remember, eating too much sodium over a prolonged period can lead to heart or liver problems.
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Meat can be a perfectly healthy addition to any diet routine. It’s one of the best sources of protein available and also provides essential nutrients such as iron, selenium and zinc. But, like with any food, it’s important to take nutritional value into consideration while planning a menu.
Always try to prepare reasonably sized servings and to include a diverse mix of different food groups in every dish. This will ensure that you eat balanced meals that provide everything that your body needs for a long, healthy life.