Is red meat healthy? Is red meat fattening? Shouldn’t we be reducing our red meat consumption?
These are some of the questions I get asked on a regular basis and the answer I always give is, it depends. When it comes to nutrition and what foods/diets are the healthiest, context is so important. Fortunately, an individuals’ health is not defined by one specific food, but rather, it’s defined by a collection of our daily, weekly, monthly and yearly dietary and lifestyle habits.
If your diet consists of poor quality foods and you do very little exercise, then having a beef burger on a regular basis, may not be the best option for you. On the other hand, if your diet consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and good quality protein sources and you’re quite active, then this may not be an issue.
We need to start looking at the bigger picture rather than honing in on specific food groups. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be exceptions, but as a general rule of thumb, if you’re eating wholesome nutritious foods 80% of the time and you’re doing plenty of exercise, then indulging in a beef burger or a steak isn’t going to negatively impact your health. In fact, it may have a positive influence on both your health and sports performance.
BENEFITS OF RED MEAT
1. Red meat is highly nutritious. It’s a rich source of iron, protein and B vitamins, all of which are essential for health. It is higher in saturated fats, which has been shown to contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease). However, CVD has been shown to be caused by long-term diet and lifestyle factors including weight gain, smoking, stress, lack of exercise and overall diet. Therefore, it would be naïve to suggest that one specific food group is to blame.
2.Here in Ireland, our cattle are grass-fed, meaning we have some of the best quality beef. Grass fed beef is generally lower in total fat and is said to have 5 times as much omega 3 fatty acids than grain fed beef.
3.From a sports performance perspective, red meat is a really rich source of protein (which is beneficial for recovery). Beef is also quite high in creatine, which is hugely beneficial for sports that require explosive bouts of exercise such as sprinting, team sports and strength sports.
Despite all the information in the media and the field of nutrition, beef has numerous health benefits. Just like any other food, if beef is consumed in large quantities alongside a poor overall diet, it could have a negative impact on our health. However, it’s important to consider our diet as a whole before demonizing or cutting out specific food groups.
With all that said, I’m sharing my latest recipe with you ‘Homemade Beef Burgers and Chips. There are a few elements to this recipe, but it’s relatively quick and easy to make.
-½ lb of beef mince
-1 medium red onion
-1 teaspoon of cumin
-1 teaspoon of coriander
-1 medium egg
-3 medium potatoes
-2 tablespoon of olive oil
-1 teaspoon of season all
-1 teaspoon of garlic granules
-30g of grated mozzarella cheese
-1 medium tomato
-Mixed salad leaves
-1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
-1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
-5 sundried tomatoes
-Half a red pepper
-Pinch of salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 200°C. Wash and chop the potatoes into wedges and put onto a baking tray. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of garlic granules and a teaspoon of season all to a small bowl, mix and pour over the potatoes. Oven bake the potatoes for 20-30 minutes or until softened (check them regularly to ensure they don’t burn).
Add the beef mince to a large mixing bowl. Beat an egg in a separate bowl or jug and pour over the mince. Add the cumin, chopped red onion and coriander and mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Add some salt and pepper to season. Next, shape the mince into burger patties with your hands. Make sure all the burgers are the same size and thickness.
Add olive oil to a heated pan and cook the beef patties together in the pan (my batch made 5 burger patties). Cook them on either side for approximately 5 minutes or until they’re cooked to your liking. When the burgers are cooked, remove from the pan, add the sliced tomato and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and place in the oven for a few minutes (until the cheese is melted).
While the burgers are cooking, you can start to put together the salad. Wash the mixed salad leaves, chop the pepper and the sundried tomatoes and mix together. Add the Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and olive oil to a bowl and stir. Add the walnuts and the dressing and mix well. Serve the burgers with the homemade chips and mixed salad.