White Or Red?

Christmas is upon us, and as a part of the culture, rich and delicious foods such as cake, pudding and a sumptuous roast are enjoyed together with our loved ones.Today, many around the world eat stuffed turkey as their roast at their Christmas Dinner, and treat it as the traditional main course. Turkey is often considered a healthy source of white meat. But what is white and red meat, and how do they compare health wise?

Two Meat Types

If you go to a supermarket or a butcher who sells different kinds of meat, you will notice that most meat come in two main colours. Poultry such as chicken and turkey often have meat that are pale and lacking in colour, while meat from larger animals such as cows and goats tend to be a dark red.

Even after cooking, the colour of meat tends to stay the same – for example, chicken breast remains white, while beef steaks and mutton chops are a deliciously dark red.

These natural colourations are generally due to the lifestyle of the animals themselves.Frequent and heavy muscle activity increases the amount of oxygen carrying proteins in the body, and these proteins form the muscles which become meat. These meat comes from muscles that move slowly and steadily, such as walking, while the white meat comes from muscles used in short, sharp bursts, such as when flying or running away.

Differences in Benefits

The same content that gives red meat its distinct colour also contains fat, iron, zinc, niacin and B vitamins, which are easily absorbed by our bodies compared to similar nutrients from other sources. The vitamins found in red meat can give you a boost in energy, while the minerals help to keep your immune system strong. However, while richer in vitamins and minerals, high consumption of red meat has been linked to greater incidence of gout, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

White meat has less of these nutrients, but is richer inprotein, magnesium, phosphorus and choline, with trace amounts of calcium, iron and potassium.In general, white meat does not have the strong taste of red meat – meaning preparation is the key in making it taste delicious.

Which Should I Eat?

Meat is often a staple in diets because they are a good source of protein, which you need to repair and replace body tissue. Dietitians recommend eating 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogramme of body weight. A 100g portion of meat provides approximately 26g of protein, so a 70kg man should ideally consume 215g of meat daily – if they do not have any other source of protein.

Both white and red meat have their benefits, so if you eat meat, having both in your diet is a good idea. As overconsumption of red meat is associated with many health issues, consider it a luxury, and eat it in sparing amounts. Just be careful not to overeat during this festive season!

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

Keep fit, stay healthy and eat healthy!