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Meat your maker

Veggies, look away now…check out this guide to the nutritional pros and cons of the four major meats you’re likely to consume…

Lamb

There’s a significantly higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids in lamb than there is in other red meats, and in free-range, grass-fed lamb that figure can reach almost half the levels of some oily fish. Lamb does have a relatively high fat content but it’s also packed with iron, zinc and vitamins – particularly B12, which is crucial for the function of the brain and nervous system. 

Nutrition per lean 100g: 168 kcal, 7.3g fat, 25g protein

Beef

A typical serving of steak will easily provide you with more than your RDA (recommended daily allowance) of protein and will keep you full without overloading your calorie consumption. A 100g serving provides as much zinc as 10 servings of tuna, and over half the amount of iron you get in raw spinach. The cholesterol content in beef is generally higher than its cousins, though, so consume it in moderation.

Nutrition per lean 100g: 174kcal, 4.8g fat, 31g protein

Pork

Pork often gets a bad press due to its association with fatty by-products like sausages and bacon, but a lean pork steak contains less fat than lamb and beef. It has high levels of B vitamins and  – a 100g serving contains roughly 65 per cent of your RDA of thiamin, which is crucial for processing carbs into energy. And it tends to be cheaper than beef and lamb. 

Nutrition per lean 100g: 143 kcal, 3.9g fat, 24g protein

Chicken

Chicken is easily the least calorific and least fatty of the four major meats but it also contains fewer minerals. Even the dark meat of a chicken contains less than half of the iron and zinc content found in red meats. It does have a higher protein-per-calorie ratio though. If you’re cooking chicken, always remove the skin before eating – leaving the skin on will triple the fat content. 

Nutrition per chicken breast (skin removed): 113 kcal, 1.9g fat, 20g protein

 
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