Red meat is more than just iron, it's also the protein, B12, zinc, B6 and much more.
Read below for some intersting facts and figures around the benefits of eating beef and lamb.
How much, when, and what with?
- Beef and lamb is the best source of zinc, iron, vitamin b6 and b12.
- You need 1.6g of protein per kg of your bodyweight per day.
- You need to eat beef or lamb 3-4 times per week to boost your iron intake.
- Protein helps regulate your appetite, keeps you fuller for longer, takes more energy to digest than carbohydrates or fats.
- The redder the meat, the more iron there is in it.
- Eating beef and lamb together with veggies will increase the amount of iron absorption from the whole meal.
- Wait 30 minutes after your meal to drink tea or coffee, as the polyphenols decrease iron absorption.
- Eating red meat with vitamin C increases iron absorption. Capsicums have more vitamin C than any other fruit or vegetable.
- Adding lean meat to a salad sandwich increases the amount of iron absorbed from the bread and salad.
- Red meat can help to increase iron absorption. When you eat beef or lamb, together with vegies, the amount of non-heme iron absorption from veggies will increase.
- Eating a combination of foods high in both haem and non-haem iron will ensure an iron-rich diet, for example a beef and vegetable stir-fry is a great iron-rich meal.
- Eat beef or lamb 3-4 times per week to boost your iron intake.
- You need to eat 7 eggs to get the same amount of protein in a 150g steak.
Impacts on health
- Beef and lamb contain all the essential amino acids needed for muscle protein synthesis.
- Red meat is the best source for micronutrients, including zinc, iron, vitamin b6 and b12.
- Iron is important for producing haemoglobin in our blood, which carries oxygen around our bodies.
- More people suffer from iron deficiency than any other nutritional disorder in the world.
- Iron supplements can reduce the absorption of other essential nutrients, such as zinc and calcium.
- 8 out of 10 toddlers don’t meet the recommended daily intake of dietary iron.
- 14% of children under the age of 2 are iron deficient.
- Don't rely on supplements. The iron in pills or supplements and fortified foods such as breakfast cereal is poorly absorbed.
- Iron from beef and lamb ensures a healthy immune system.
- Athletes should prioritise higher iron foods in meals before, or well after training, as intense training can decrease iron absorption up to 6 hours afterwards.
- 120g of beef provides a quarter of a woman’s daily absorbable iron needs.
- 1 in 14 women are low in iron.
- Over 33% of teenage girls don’t achieve their daily iron requirements.
- Not all iron is created equal. 120g of beef provides a quarter of a woman’s daily absorbable iron needs.
Plant protein vs red meat protein
- You need to consume 30% more plant protein to get the same amount of protein from beef and lamb.
- Your body can use 15-25% of the iron in red meat, but only 5-12% of the iron in silver beet.
- 120g of steak provides the same amount of absorbable iron as 19 cups (1.4kg) of cooked silver beet.
- Plant proteins are incomplete – they do not contain all the essential amino acids that humans need.
- Most plant proteins that claim to be high protein are a better source of carb than protein e.g., quinoa or lentils, excluding tofu and edamame beans.
- Iron has two forms: haem and non-haem. Plant foods (non-haem) don’t absorb iron as well as meat (haem).
- Red meat delivers good nutrients that support our brain, muscles, mood (those amino acids in protein build our neurotransmitters that help with motivation, sleep, concentration and feeling calm).
- Red meat delivers cholesterol (immune system, hormones) and creatine (brain, bones, body and mood) - zoo nutrients that aren’t found in plants.
- Beef and lamb have high levels of vitamin B12, essential for preventing fatigue and brain fog.
- Early humans who hunted animals for meat developed bigger brains than plant eaters.
- Your brain is one of the largest organs, it’s 2% of your body weight and uses 30-40% of your daily nutrients.
- Increasing nutrients at times of high stress will help you cope.
- Micronutrients like zinc, magnesium and iron are all essential for making neurotransmitter chemicals for the brain and the body, all of which are in red meat.
- If your body is depleted of micronutrients, then either it won’t have sufficient nutrients to make essential chemicals, or it will redirect all resources to the fight flight response (as it is so vital for survival) and there won’t be much left for ensuring optimal brain function to do things like concentrate, regulate moods and deal with anxiety.
- Micronutrients get depleted at a high rate during times of stress, we need to replenish them in greater quantity from our food.
- Micronutrients can be found in nutrient-dense foods, real whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables and read meat, not highly processed foods.
- Deficiencies in the micronutrients found in meat have been linked with brain-related disorders, including low IQ, autism, depression, and dementia.
- To build and maintain a savvy brain, our ancestors used ingredients found primarily in meat, including iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and fatty acids.
- Eating enough iron helps to prevent oxidative stress in the brain.
- Iron — BEEF + LAMB NEW ZEALAND (beeflambnz.co.nz)
- Resources | Iron Awareness Week (ironweek.co.nz)
- Iron - NZ Nutrition Foundation