While meat can get a bad rap from time-to-time (and for some good reasons), it doesn’t have to be all bad. Keeping meat in your diet is not just important for your enjoyment, but also for your health.
Meat contains a lot of vitamins and nutrients that are more difficult to get from other sources. Therefore, if you want to be healthy but don’t want to go vegetarian or vegan, here are 7 fantastic tips to include meat in your daily diet. Not only will you enjoy their health benefits, but with these methods, you can have delicious, meaty meals as well.
#1 Choose the best, leanest meat
When you begin considering the best meat to choose for a healthy diet, it’s important to separate different cuts of meat.
Not all meats are made equal, and there tends to be strong differences between red meats and poultry. Let’s see which are the best for you.
Chicken, turkey, and other common poultry meats have a great amount of protein with a relatively low amount of fat (when the skin is removed before or after cooking).
The breast will have much lower fat content than the darker thigh meat. Also, it’s generally a good idea to stay away from duck meat. Although it is poultry, all parts of duck have quite high fat content.
Beef also has a great amount of protein but normally has a good amount of fat as well.
In order to enjoy beef in a healthy way, it’s important to trim the fat before you cook it. Select or Choice beef will also be better than prime beef—and loin or round will be the leanest beef meat. The higher the lean percentage (90% or more) means that the fat content is minimal.
Pork, Lamb, and Others
Other meats as common as pork or less common, such as lamb or veal, can also provide a healthy option.
As with the other options, you should make sure to choose lean cuts of meat with a low-fat content. For pork, this includes the loin or tenderloin.
#2 Avoid processed meat
Although they are very convenient, processed meats (and processed anything in fact) are just not healthy.
This includes lunch meats, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and other types. These normally are mixed with salty, fatty ingredients, not to mention preservatives and other things that can be damaging to your health.
#3 Marinate your meat
One of the reasons that people, chefs especially, love fatty meat is because fat flavors the meat and makes it juicy.
You can get the same effect by using a good, low-fat marinade. This is particularly easy to do by making sure you use a combination of oil/acid and herbs/spices. For example, you can use olive oil, lemon juice and your favorite herbs and spices. Your meat will come out juicy and flavorful.
#4 Use low-fat cooking methods
One of the greatest things you can do to meat is introduce it to fire—and luckily grilling is one of the healthiest ways to prepare meat.
If you don’t want to go through the setup of grilling your meat all the time, you can also roast, broil, bake or saute it. If you do prepare it in the oven, just make sure to prop your meat on a rack so that the fat drips off the meat.
#5 Skim the fat when cold
When you are making stews and soups, it’s natural that you’ll end up with some fat in there. A small amount is fine, but too much is not very healthy.
If you want to keep the flavor but remove the fat, you can simply leave the meat in the liquid. Cool it to room temperature and then place it in the fridge. After some time (a few hours or the next morning), the fat will have risen to the top and hardened. Then you can simply skim off that fat and enjoy your healthy meal.
#6 Eat less
Without knowing you, I can assume you’re probably eating too much. This is normal because, as the saying goes, your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
Your meat portion size should be about 3 ounces or 85 grams of meat, which is roughly the size of a deck of cards. This is equal to about half a boneless, skinless chicken breast or a chicken quarter (leg and thigh) without meat.
#7 Meat in moderation
Even if you’re eating good-sized proportions, it isn’t particularly good to eat meat for every meal, 7 days a week. Meat nonetheless comes with more fat and cholesterol, and one way to reduce that intake is to eat less meat.
Instead, try to switch it up with fish and other seafood and, for balance, enjoy some meatless meals as well. This can be a lighter breakfast (with eggs, toast, etc.) or lunches with pasta or filling salad.
The key to a healthy, meaty diet
When you take all these tips in consideration, you’ll see that meat doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, meat can be quite good—and good for you.
With moderation, the right type of meat and the best preparation and cooking methods, you’ll see how healthy a meaty diet can be.