Choosing the Healthiest Meats or Meat Substitutes

Meat & Meat Alternatives

Some type of meat or alternative is necessary in any healthy diet in order to supply protein. The importance of meat in a diet means each person should have around four ounces each day. All types of meat have different nutritional properties. Some are harmful in large amounts while others are very nutritious. Several points will help anyone to choose the best types of meat or meat substitutes.

Meats to Avoid or Eat In Moderation

Despite the importance of meats and protein, some foods should be avoided. Beef is one of the meats to avoid in large quantities. Beef usually has a high fat and cholesterol content especially in lower quality cuts. Turkey is another meat to eat in moderation largely because it often has as much fat as beef. Most lamb is very fatty and unhealthy as well. Processed or canned meats that have preservatives, salt and other chemicals added should be avoided completely. Ground meat or poultry should be avoided because the contents are unpredictable and usually contain extra fat.

Preferred Meats

The best meats to include in a healthy diet are lean, minimally processed and fresh. Poultry like chicken is a good choice because it contains protein and minimal fat as long as the skin is not eaten. Pork that has not been ground is a good choice because it contains lower fat and cholesterol than beef and lamb. Some beef cuts are acceptable but only if they are certified choice or select quality and have minimal marbling.


Seafood is one of the best choices for meat in a diet. The importance of seafood in a weekly diet is obvious when looking at the low fat content and the high amount of nutrients. Fish such as salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids, are easy on the digestive system and can potentially lower blood pressure. It is important not to eat too much seafood since contaminants like mercury in the water can enter the meat. Fish should also be prepared carefully without using saturated fats.

Meat Alternatives

There are ways to eat a healthy and balanced diet without animal-based proteins. A number of meat substitutes are available based on high-protein plant-based sources such as beans, soy or extracted vegetable proteins. Some of the best options are tofu, tempeh and seitan. Pre-made meatless products usually use an alternative known as textured vegetable protein. These substitutes need to be eaten in moderation just like animal-based meats. It is also important to be careful with preparation since alternatives like tempeh and seitan are fermented with extra salt.

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