Guest post: comparing different red meats, how do they measure up?

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Red meats are, without a doubt, a staple in most people’s diets. With so many classic dishes from all over the world containing beef, lamb or pork, it’s easy to consume without even thinking – especially in New Zealand, where meat is so abundant and delicious!

However, with rising health concerns, the general population has become wary of the implications to their diets. Red meat has been linked with problems such as high cholesterol, and this has led to some reluctance to eat it as often.

Many people want to cook more balanced meals at home but don’t have the time for all the extra grocery shopping. This is why so many have opted to switch to services that deliver pre-portioned ingredients like HelloFresh for delicious and nutritious dinners straight to their front door – including plenty of meals with meat.

While some  may be tempted to eliminate their consumption of red meat entirely, it contains plenty of benefits and can be a good element of your diet if you consume it mindfully. Apart from the nutritional value, price and taste are also factors that will likely influence your view of it.

When we are being advised that about three-quarters of our food intake should be from foods derived from plants, it can be hard to decide which meat  to go with to complement that – and health, price and flavour are all factors. While different people will have different budgets and tastes, the health benefits of beef, lamb and venison are the same for everyone, making it easy to compare them.

Beef

Beef is one of the most popular types of meat around. Steak is a classic in Western cuisine, but we also find it all around the world. This is the meat in your typical cheeseburger, and it comes in various forms like mince or sausage. Beef is also very common and grown widely in New Zealand.

First things first: no matter what kind of animal it comes from, it will be healthier to opt for grass-fed meat, rather than grain. Luckily, the vast majority of our cattle, sheep and deer are fed on grass, so it isn’t hard to find the healthier alternatives.

Rich in minerals such as zinc and phosphorous, vitamin B, and containing a good amount of protein, beef offers plenty of benefits for those who choose to implement it in their diets.

One benefit which places it above other red meats is its tendency to be less expensive. Beef is also commonly more processed than other red meats – quality plays a big part and can vary from product to product, however.

Lamb

When people all over the world think of New Zealand, they think of sheep. It’s no wonder, therefore, that our lamb is so prized – both here and overseas. But how does it stack up compared to other meats?

Lamb tends to be more tender than beef due to its high fat content. However, this fat is quite healthy and can actually be a good source of omega 3. This also makes lamb quite good for cardiovascular health.

It’s no surprise that Kiwis have rated roast lamb as a favourite, suggesting that the taste of this particular red meat takes precedence.

One downside of lamb is that it is relatively more expensive than beef, thus, people may be tempted to go for the cheaper option considering the similarities in nutritional content.

Venison

Venison is not yet as popular as lamb or beef, and can be more expensive than both, but it is fast appearing on the radar of meat consumers. This is because unlike other types of red meat, the deer which provide venison tend to be leaner, lending a more dense texture to the meat..

Venison contains far less saturated fat due to its lean nature. It also has more protein than other types of red meat, making it an ideal choice for those who want to up their protein intake and look after their cholesterol.

Venison also has a unique taste that is beginning to take off in the food scene. As people begin to experiment more with their food options, we can probably expect an increase in the consumption of deer and other game.

Around the world venison is known as a meat that is hunted, however here we have a large (and growing) deer farming community, making it cheaper to get venison in (or from) New Zealand than almost anywhere else.

Despite the rising concerns over our consumption of red meat, it still has a place in a balanced diet. The most important thing is that you consider the benefits product to product and exercise moderation.

Everyone has different preferences, and the type of red meat you choose to consume is entirely your decision. However, you should consider the nutritional implications of what you eat to ensure that you are maintaining a well-balanced diet.

Mike Smith, the writer of this article, is executive editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to health and food around New Zealand, Australia and across the world.

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