Meat is a very important food for human diet. It’s rich in high biological value proteins, with remarkable presence of essential amino acids (phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, valine), indispensable for human tissues maintenance and construction. The sulfur amino acids are also present in good quantities. Myosin, creatine and carnitine are important proteins, necessary transporter of fat metabolism. Made up of connective tissues and muscle, meat contains from 50% to about 80% of water, but the nutritional values can vary according to the type of meat, sex, breed and type of animal farming. Generally meat presents lipids as fat in the muscle and fat is a rich source of vitamins A, D and B group vitamins, important for nervous and digestive processes: in particular vitamin B12, completely absent in vegetables. Mineral salts, such as iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, calcium and magnesium represent about 1%. Iron is the most important, because it’s in highly bioavailable form and it helps intestinal absorption of iron contained in other foods.
Claiming that legumes are a great meat substitute is not entirely correct: meat is certainly an IRREPLACEABLE food, because of its richness of highly assimilable nutrients. Proteins in meat are in fact very similar to those of the human body, which is why they are absorbed and utilized by the body optimally. Eating meat 2 or 3 times a week definitely helps the body staying healthy. In the past it was considered a food that only rich people could afford, because of its high cost. Most of the population was poor and with serious nutritional deficiencies: only bread, pasta, polenta, potatoes and seasonal vegetables were on their tables. The progress improved living conditions, increasing amounts of high nutritional value foods, such as animal origin food. Even the average height of the population rose by one centimeter every ten years, thanks to high nutritional value food and proteins, making possible to Italians to better express their genetic potential.
Currently meat is too often unfairly demonized and accused of being the cause of illness, but it’s not true. From 1861 to 2011, the consumption of animal origin foods in Italy have risen sharply. And we're not all cancer patients, as some pseudoscientific movements would have us to believe: on the contrary, the current state of Italians health seems to derive precisely from a marked increase in animal foods eating. Especially today then, meat is very safe, because of the problems had in the past, the government is legislating in order to ensure traceability at all stages, from birth to slaughter, to the consumer's table. Meat is divided by color, into three broad groups: red meat, such as beef, horse meat, lamb, goat and pork; white meat, as rabbit, chicken and turkey; black meat, that’s the game.
Red meat has a very intense flavor, they have an iron content generally higher than white meat. The castrated male slaughtered near 3-4 years old, has a strong taste and a good supply of proteins. To facilitate the digestibility, it’s subjected to a long period of maturation. This process is performed after slaughtering and consist in storing the slaughtered animal for at least 7 days in cold storage at temperatures between 0 and 2 Celsius degrees.
This procedure is necessary to give the right amount of tenderness to the muscle fibers and achieve the ideal and typical characteristics of meat, such as the aroma and taste. The meat of males slaughtered between 12 and 18 months old contains less water and more nutrients, still very digestible and succulent. It’s recognized by the bright red color, with small and whitish fat infiltrations, lining the muscle mass and with white or pale yellow outer fat, covering the surface of back and loins. These qualities are dependent on the breed and on the diet during the fattening period. Horsemeat is the one with the higher content of iron and has a pleasantly sweet flavor due to the presence of glycogen.
So named for their light color, due to a lower presence of myoglobin. They contain less fat than red meat and have a high digestibility for their shorter and thinner muscle fibers. Rabbit is the best type of meat among white ones, because of its delicious and tender taste. It does not contain fat and it’s low in cholesterol.
Chicken and turkey are excellent meat as well. Chicken contains much lysine, important for growth and it’s low in fat, especially in the chest; turkey also has a high digestibility for the smaller presence of connective tissue and its meat is very lean and iron rich.
The using of game dates back to 2.5 million years ago, when Homo habilis hunted its prey with rudimentary tools. We have 2 groups: haired game and feathered game. In the first group we find wild boar, deer, roe deer, fallow deer, hare, wild rabbit, bear, otter and fox; in the second group we find pheasants, partridges, woodcocks, thrushes, skylarks, quails and wild ducks. They have a firm, dark reddish brown meat, rich in connective tissue, but very good in terms of nutritional and gastronomic purposes. You might call it "for amateurs" food because of its particular taste.
To make it more digestible, game meat is subjected to a long maturation because of the greater hardness of its muscle fibers. Compared to farmed animals, they have a smaller amount of fat, because wild animals are free to feeding of the forest natural resources. Furthermore they are composed by excellent quality fats, richer in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Game meat also contains more protein, in particular more essential amino acids, a feature that contributes in elevating its nutritional value. For these characteristics and for its health quality, ensured by careful veterinary checks, game meat can be recommended also for children.
Delicious meat and perfect for a healthy diet, low in fat and low in cholesterol, it contains many nutrients, such as high quality proteins, vitamin A, vitamin B1, B2, niacin, B6, folic acid and vitamin B12.
Important source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, selenium and thanks to special breeding, the quality of the fat changed for the better, having a predominantly composition of unsaturated fats. For these reasons, pork is particularly suitable for children, adolescents and elderly people.
The cooking of meat is a critical point that must be performed in order to take the most of the benefits from meat, without losing its inner juices and then tenderness, flavor and nutrients. Meat tends to burn easily, that's why it’s often cited as a carcinogen food. But this rule applies to all foods: for example, even a burnt pizza develops toxic carcinogens. For this reason it would be advisable don’t burn it, since burning can be extremely harmful for health.
This phrase of the famous anthropologist Marvin Harris describes our innate desire of meat: "Eating meat is a manifestation of humans biological needs." It’s useless denying it, we definitely need meat!