Beef & Lamb Nutrition
Food, nutrition and exercise are crucial to our general health and well-being. Making the right choices of food and drink and taking regular exercise can protect the body against many illnesses such as coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, certain cancers and other diseases.
Lean beef and lamb can play an important part in a healthy balanced diet. It contains a wide variety of essential nutrients including protein, key minerals, particularly iron and zinc and B vitamins, including vitamin B12 not naturally found in green plants and conventional vegetables.
There are five main food groups: fruit and vegetables; bread, other cereals and potatoes; meat, fish and alternatives; milk and dairy foods; foods containing fat and foods and drinks containing fat and sugar. The food selection guide (below) shows the relative proportions of food we should eat from each of the five food groups.
Getting your Portion
On average, we should aim to eat about 70g of cooked meat and meat products per day, equivalent to roughly 500g over the week. This is in line with average consumption in the UK.
On cooking, red meat loses on average about 20-30% of its raw weight. This means that a fresh quarter-pound (100g) burger will weigh roughly between 70-80g on cooking.
What does my portion look like?
As a quick guide, think of the following examples when considering the recommended portion amount for beef and lamb:
• 3 slices of roast lamb, 80g
• 2 grilled lamb chops, excluding the bone, 70-80g
• Portion of stewed mince beef, 70-80g
• 1 grilled sirloin steak, 160g
Consumed as part of a balanced diet, lean red meat can make an important contribution to health and wellbeing throughout life by contributing a variety of nutrients to the diet which includes protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12.
Red meat is a good source of high quality protein. Protein is essential for growth, maintenance and the repair of the body and can also provide energy. Red meat contains, on average, 20-24g of protein per 100g (when raw). Cooked red meat contains 27-35g of protein per 100g (cooked weight).
In a number of Western countries, red meat consumption has declined, partly due to a concern about its fat content. However, advances in animal husbandry and butchery techniques over the last 40 years have resulted in a reduction in the fat content of carcase meat by 10-30%. This means that the fat content of lean red meat is much less than many people think. Typically, the total fat content of lean red meat is between 5-10g per 100g.
We can further reduce the fat content of meat by using preparation and cooking methods such as dry frying or grilling and by trimming the visible fat off meat before we cook it.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids - long chain omega-3 fatty acids have potential benefits in relation to heart health, especially for those who have already suffered a heart attack. Only a small amount of these long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are found in meat, but there are few rich sources apart from oil-rich fish and therefore meat can usefully contribute to intakes of these important fatty acids for those who consume little or no oil-rich fish.
Red meat contains protein and important micronutrients, all of which are essential for good health throughout our life. Most healthy balanced diets will include lean meat in moderate amounts, together with starchy carbohydrates (including wholegrain foods), plenty of fruit and vegetables and moderate amounts of milk and dairy foods.
If you would like more information on Diet and lifestyle in relation to Red Meat, please download our PDF documents which explain the role that red meat plays in diet: