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What is the Nutritional Value of Meat?

Marjorie McAtee
By
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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The nutritional value of meat is generally derived from its high protein content. The fats found in meats can also be a valuable source of fuel for the body. Meat typically contains important minerals, including iron, phosphorous, zinc, and the complete range of B vitamins, some of which — like vitamin B12 — can usually only be found in foods derived from animals.

Meat usually contains high levels of complete protein, a nutrient necessary for a healthy body. The proteins in meat are normally easy for most people to digest. The body typically uses this nutrient to perform cellular repairs and generate new tissue. Protein is also considered crucial to the regulation of immune function and electrolyte balance.

Fat is also found in meat, and while too much fat can be bad for health, some is needed to keep the body working correctly. The human body generally burns fat for energy. Protein can also be used for energy, but most experts agree that fat and carbohydrates should supply the bulk of the body's energy needs.

Iron is necessary for helping oxygen molecules bind to red blood cells, and meat is considered an excellent source of this mineral. The iron found in meats is among the most easily absorbed and used of any dietary sources. Vegetable sources of this mineral may be more difficult for the body to use.

Phosphorous and zinc also form part of the nutritional value of meat. Along with dairy products and fish, meat is considered a good source of dietary phosphorous, which helps to support bone health. Zinc, which helps regulate metabolism and enzyme function, can also be found in many meats.

B vitamins are some of the most crucial nutrients found in meat, since some of them can't usually be found in other foods. These vitamins help to support metabolic function, cognitive function, skin health, the production of red blood cells and digestion. Vitamin B12 in particular can typically only be found in meat and other animal-derived food products.

Though meat can form part of a healthy diet, many types contain high levels of fat and cholesterol and should not be eaten excessively. Lean meats are generally considered most nutritious. Consumers may be able to enjoy the maximum nutritional value of meat, with the lowest risk, by choosing lean meats and preparing them in a way that does not increase their fat and cholesterol levels.

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Marjorie McAtee
By Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee, a talented writer and editor with over 15 years of experience, brings her diverse background and education to everything she writes. With degrees in relevant fields, she crafts compelling content that informs, engages, and inspires readers across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a skilled member of any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon349189 — On Sep 24, 2013

@MikeMason: Loving meat does not make it part of a healthy diet. And you can be a bodybuilder without meat. It just requires you to think about your food a little more, but if you are an athlete, that shouldn't be much of a problem, since you already do that. Just take it a step further.

@Burcinc: You don't need to get a B12 shot every year. First: there are plenty of veggie/vegan burgers, soy milks and the likes that are fortified by B12. You can get ample amounts that way (you don't need heaps). The other way is to add nutritional yeast to your diet. The B12 myth is a smokescreen held up by meat-eaters who don't know what they are talking about. Do you know that you can make all the B12 you need? It just requires you to stop washing all your veggies (I know, I know) when they come from the soil, or to stop washing your mouth (I know, I know). The reason we can't get enough nowadays is because we are too hygienic.

@Ysmina: Go see another doctor. Your current one is an idiot. There are tons of plants that can give you ample supplies of iron. Just because meat has a large supply doesn't mean it's good for you. That's like prescribing cyanide for the flu. (I know, I know.)

By stoneMason — On Feb 03, 2013

I don't want to get into an argument of whether humans are carnivores, herbivores or omnivores. I'm not an expert on this. However, I believe that meat is an important part of a healthy diet.

I'm a bodybuilder and I can't imagine what life would be like without meat. I love meat, especially beef. I also love that it's a power food. It provides long-term energy that I need while working out. It also helps me build muscle more quickly.

But I don't overdo it because I'm over forty and I don't want high cholesterol or a heart attack.

By burcinc — On Feb 02, 2013

@ysmina-- I'm a vegetarian and I'm happy to be one. But I find it annoying that I have to get a vitamin B12 shot every year because I don't get enough of it from non-meat sources. So I know what you mean.

By ysmina — On Feb 02, 2013

I have a serious iron deficiency. I'm not vegetarian but generally don't eat meat because I don't find it appetizing. When my iron deficiency symptoms didn't go away with iron supplements, my doctor requested me to eat meat. Now I force myself to eat it and I'm more used to the flavor.

My doctor told me that iron is found in many foods, but meat is the best source of it. Even though I was eating beans and taking iron supplements, I continued to faint several times a week from iron deficiency.

Since I've started eating meat, I have only fainted once. Now I think of meat like my daily dose of medicine. I don't want to be sick all my life so I have to eat it.

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee, a talented writer and editor with over 15 years of experience, brings her diverse background and education to everything she writes. With degrees in relevant fields, she crafts compelling content that informs, engages, and inspires readers across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a skilled member of any content creation team.
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