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why do we need meat in our diet

Do We Need Meat? Have you chosen a diet for yourself? This article may help you in this. No, say an increasingly vocal group of health and nutrition professionals. Yes, say others in the field: Eat meat in moderation; it s a nutrient-dense food, and a little goes a long way toward supplying certain vitamins. Here, you ll find both sides of the story whether you choose to eat or pass it up for ethical or healthy reasons, here s what you need to know. Meat is an excellent source of good nutrition. I don t know a better source of iron or other elements copper, zinc. With a vegetarian diet it s difficult to get the elements you need. Paul Saltman, Ph. D. , University of Carolina, San Diego. It s wrong to put down a food simply because excessive amounts can cause health problems. Consumed in moderate amounts, meat is perfectly good for your health. The body needs certain building blocks for health amino acids, minerals and vitamins. It so happened that meat is a very reasonable source of these requirements. M. Roy Schwarz, M. D. , American Medical Association. The ideal diet contains zero meat and zero cholesterol. That holds for all people, including young women. While I think it is a step in the right direction for the meat industry to produce lean meats, the McDonald burger makes me worry that we may be dealing with something like a filtered cigarette. I don t think we re dealing with anything good in these products, just greater or lesser degrees of bad.

Frank Sachs, M. D. , Harvard Medical School. The current dietary guidelines give people a false sense of security. People think they re fine if they eat a diet that s 30 per cent calories from fat. I have a cholesterol about 200 mg. That s not always the case. Young adults cholesterol should be 120 to 130 mg. Over age thirty, it should be under 150 mg. It s not all or nothing, but the closer one gets to the optimal diet, the more one sees the benefits. Dean Ornish, M. D. , University of Carolina, San Francisco. The more frequently you eat red meat, the greater your chances of developing colon cancer is. Red meat contains substantial fat. Eating red meat puts you at risk for heart disease. There may be some benefit in eating red meat once or twice a week, but not necessary. Walter Willet, M. D. , Dr. Ph, Harvard School of Public Health. Vegetarian diet reduces the risk of heart cancer, helps control diabetes, treats obesity and is kind to animals. It s an easy choice to make. Neal Barnard, M. D. , the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. All the experts we spoke with agree that you should cut back on meat. The question is how much. Some proponents of a vegetarian diet are not opposed to eating small amounts of meat. Others think that a meatless diet as a goal is a strict necessity. If you choose to eat meat: keep portions small. Buy lean cuts and thoroughly trim external fat before cooking. Eating skinless chicken and fish but no red meat will reduce your intake of fat somewhat.

If you omit meat but eat dairy products, you still need to watch fat. If you cut out meat and replace it with high-fat cheese, you re right back where you started, says Johanna Dwyer. The biggest problem for women, who give up meat entirely or just eat it occasionally is getting enough iron and zinc. Women need more iron than men do.
In early civilizations, skipping the bison meat at dinner may have led to poor nutrition. These days, however, humans have access to an array of healthful food options and don't need to eat animal flesh to thrive. On the contrary, the vegetarian lifestyle is linked to better weight management and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meat is hailed for protein content, but most Americans eat more protein than they need each day. Furthermore, this nutrient is hardly scarce in plant foods: Beans, peas, tofu and nuts will all help you meet your daily quota. Even grains such as rice, corn and quinoa contain protein. While most plant proteins -- with the exception of quinoa and soy -- don't contain all essential amino acids, eating a variety of foods throughout the day will ensure that you get the full range of nutrients. For optimal health, 10 percent to 35 percent of your total daily calories should come from protein. Meat is often rich in iron, which you need to carry oxygen through your bloodstream.

You can also get iron from lentils, tofu, nuts and broccoli, however. In fact, vegetarians in Western cultures typically get as much iron as meat eaters, according to Harvard Health Publications. Iron in plant foods is the nonheme variety, which is harder for your body to absorb. But consuming vitamin C along with iron-rich foods will greatly increase bioavailability. For optimal iron absorption, squeeze some lemon juice onto your plate or include vitamin C-rich foods such as bell pepper in your meal. Vitamin B-12 isn't found in plant foods, and you need small amounts of this nutrient for healthy nerves and blood cells. You can get enough vitamin B-12 from eggs and dairy without ever touching meat, however. Even vegans can get vitamin B-12 by eating nutritional yeast as well as fortified products, such as certain breakfast cereals. The U. S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate system offers recommendations for healthy eating, and you can easily meet them on a vegetarian diet. According to the guidelines, half of each plate at mealtime should be filled with fruits and vegetables, and the other half should be split between grains and protein. The guidelines also recommend three servings of dairy per day, although soy milk is an acceptable alternative. By following this system, you can build a healthy, balanced diet that meets all nutritional needs -- regardless of meat intake.

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