Whether juicy grilled, baked in the oven, deep-fried or stuffed – meat tastes good and provides plenty of variety on the table. However, there is hardly any other food that is so popular and at the same time so controversial. To frown upon all meats as unhealthy is wrong. After all, meat is a good source of protein and provides us with valuable nutrients, such as zinc, selenium and iron. Okay, but how much meat per week should we eat? What is the unhealthiest meat and which types should we rather avoid? Pork, chicken or beef? With so many questions, you often feel lost. But don’t worry! We’ve done our research for you and reveal the answers to the above questions below!
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How much meat per week is healthy?
Our awareness regarding our food as well as our eating habits have changed significantly in recent years. Meat products definitely have their place in a balanced and healthy diet. Although meat consumption has decreased slightly in recent years and many people are opting for a vegan diet, the average German consumes around 60 kilograms of meat per year and that is definitely far too much. While meat as a whole is an excellent source of protein and micronutrients such as zinc, selenium and vitamin B12, too much meat consumption is considered a risk factor for our health. Making bone broth and using bone marrow also have their positive sides and can stimulate collagen formation in the body.
According to the German Nutrition Society, adults should consume between 300 and 600 grams of meat per week. This includes absolutely all meat products, i.e. steaks, sausages, salami and co. While the weekly meat consumption of women is about 600 grams, men consume about 1,200 grams, half of which is processed meat. In addition, nutritionists recommend avoiding meat for at least 1 day a week. Since different types of meat have different health effects, there is actually no such thing as the “unhealthiest meat.” As with everything else, the same applies here: Quantity makes the poison. Whether certain meat is unhealthy or healthy depends on a number of factors, including animal husbandry, preparation method, and the cut used.
Unhealthiest meat: Avoid processed meats
Whether it’s grilled bratwurst or ham as a sandwich topping, sausage and various types of salami definitely have a firm place in German food culture. According to statistics, every German citizen consumes between 80 and 100 grams of cold cuts and the like per day. As the proportion of vegans and vegetarians continues to rise, the actual consumption is even higher. As early as 2015, the World Health Organization classified processed meat as potentially carcinogenic. According to a scientific study by Harvard University, consuming 50 grams of processed meat daily increases the risk of heart disease by a whopping 42%. It also increases the likelihood of developing diabetes by about 20%.
Processed meat products could thus be classified as the unhealthiest meat. The main reason for this is the high amount of salt that is in it. This makes the meat last longer, but too much salt can promote a whole range of diseases and increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders and colon cancer.
Cured meat becomes even more unhealthy when cooked at high temperatures. When heated, so-called nitrosamines are formed, which are considered carcinogenic. It’s okay to treat yourself to a grilled sausage now and then, but try to reduce your consumption as much as possible and eat sausage and salami only in moderation. So instead of topping that roll with ham again tomorrow, try vegetarian alternatives such as hummus or cottage cheese.
Is red meat unhealthy?
Is red meat unhealthy or healthy? This question has been on the minds of nutritionists around the world for years, and unfortunately, there is no concrete answer. For example, red meat from beef or pork is a great source of iron, which is essential for the formation of red blood cells. However, “the quantity makes the poison” also applies here and too much consumption of red meat can promote the development of diabetes, colon cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The so-called heme iron can also put a great strain on the spleen, liver and pancreas.
Beef in particular has fallen into disrepute in recent years and is often referred to as the unhealthiest meat. For these reasons, the World Health Organization has classified red meat as “probably carcinogenic.” If you can’t completely give up a juicy steak, try to consume no more than 300 grams of it per week or switch to chicken. Poultry is significantly lower in calories and fat and is also super versatile to prepare.
Is ground beef the unhealthiest meat?
Whether for spaghetti Bolognese or as juicy meatballs – minced meat tastes delicious and is super uncomplicated and versatile to prepare. At the same time, not all mince is the same and it can be made from different types of meat. All this, of course, affects the fat and calorie content. With only about 7 grams of fat per 100 grams, minced meat from poultry is considered particularly low in fat and calories.
But with mixed minced meat, unfortunately, it looks quite different and if we then fry it with proper oil, it quickly becomes a real calorie bomb. Raw minced meat also provides the perfect breeding ground for various pathogens and viruses, such as salmonella, and should therefore be avoided.
Cheap meat from factory farming as the unhealthiest meat
Did you know that about 98 percent of the meat we get in restaurants or supermarkets comes from factory farming? That’s a pretty staggering number, isn’t it? However, not everyone can afford to buy organic meat or meat from the butcher – we know that. But to avoid possible diseases, it would be better if you afford high-quality meat once a week instead of consuming the cheap stuff every day. Factory farming means an extremely torturous life for chickens, cattle and pigs in confined spaces and without daylight. In addition, the animals are fed vast amounts of antibiotics, which causes them to develop resistant germs that could be passed on to us when we eat them. In order to gain weight faster, the animals are given a lot of artificial hormones, which can also lead to hormonal balance in humans. For this reason, we can calmly say that cheap meat from factory farming is the unhealthiest meat of all for us.