Is Meat Good For You: Benefits & Side Effects

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

Consumption of meat can have many health benefits which may include improving skin health, boosting the immune system, providing energy, and improving iron absorption in the body. It may aid in the production of hemoglobin and is a rich source of protein and other essential amino acids.

What is Meat?

Meat comes from the flesh of animals that people consume as food. It refers to the muscles and organs of various animals, such as goat, pig, chicken, buffalo, ducks, and more that are prepared to be eaten by humans. Poultry, pork, beef, lamb, seafood are some of the types of meat with both benefits and taste. Let us take a detailed look at the different types of meat below.

Types of Meat

Meat Nutrition

As per USDA’s Food Data Central [1] report, meat can be a good source of water and energy, thereby might help you stay hydrated and moving. It is also a very rich source of protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, sodium, and zinc. Meat also may contain various vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, A, E, D, and various fatty acids.

Benefits of Eating Meat

The health benefits of this delicious food are given in detail below.

Protein Rich

Meat is a potentially rich source of protein as per USDA data, thereby making it a common component of our diets. Protein converts to energy in our body and can help manage daily functionality. The recommended daily intake of protein is 46 grams for teenage girls and women, 56 grams for men, whereas kids need about 19-34 grams and teenage boys need 52 grams. [2] [3]

May Boost Immunity

Meat has a possibly high amount of zinc content, which can help to boost immunity. Due to its antioxidant properties, zinc is responsible for creating antibodies to fight free radicals that may put us at a higher risk for chronic diseases, as per a study published in the Molecular Medicine journal. Protein, also sourced from meat, can help in the production of these antibodies to protect the body from infections. The omega-3 fatty acids from seafood are good for boosting immunity as well. Another mineral found in seafood is selenium, which can also be known for enhancing the immune system whereas vitamin A can enhance the functioning of the reproductive system. [4] [5]

Different types of fresh raw meat (fish, pork, beef, chicken, and red meat) with uncooked proteins (legumes, nuts, rice, and eggs) on a wooden table

Eating meat reduces appetite and increases metabolism. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

May Promote Muscle Growth

As per a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [6], meat can help in building muscle strength. The protein may help in building and repairing body tissues and can improve muscle activity, which is the reason why individuals who are building muscle strength increase their protein intake significantly. Protein and zinc in meat can also aid in muscle growth and repair. Without providing your body with the right nutrients, no amount of effort to build a muscular figure will help, and meat can by far be the best source for those nutrients according to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. [7]

Considered to be Rich in Omega 3 & B-vitamins

The good fatty acids known as omega-3 in seafood can keep the heart healthy and may reduce the worry of cardiovascular malfunctions. Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids might cut out the risk of heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmias. The types of B vitamins that meat provides are niacin, folic acid, thiamine, biotin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 and they can help in the formation of hormones, red blood cells, and nervous system functioning, as per studies. These vitamins also may help produce energy in the body and keep the heart and nervous system healthy. [8]

However, it is important to note that various studies also suggest that red meat is not good for heart health as it contains high quantities of saturated (bad) fat. [9]

May Improve the Condition of Your Skin and Hair

Meat is possibly rich in tocopherols and vitamin E, both of which fight against collagen, thereby can improve skin aging, as per a study published in the Dermato Endocrinology journal. Organ meat, such as liver, also contains ubiquinol, which can be a powerful antioxidant compound also found in the epidermis of the skin. Ubiquinol can help fight oxidative damage and may improve skin health. On the other hand, meat consumption can also be good for the hair as it is rich in iron. Iron deficiency can be one of the leading causes of hair loss among people, as per a research published in the Dermatology Practical and Conceptual journal. [10] [11]

May Improve Brain Power

The inclusion of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in various fishes, can promote cognitive and brain growth. It may help to improve concentration and general functioning of the brain, as per a research published in the Nature Reviews Neuroscience journal. [12]

Different Meat Recipes To Prepare At Home

If you want to cook a special meat dish at home, here are some amazing recipe ideas for you.

Side Effects

Meat consumption is associated with a lot of risk factors. Let us take a look at them below.

  • Heart disease: If you are a heart patient, then it is important to cut down your consumption of red meat as it is high in saturated fats and may cause further heart problems. [13]
  • Lifestyle diseases: Consumption of meat is linked with several types of lifestyle diseases, and it is advised to go for fresh and organic meat instead of processed and well-done meat.

It is also important to purchase meat from a clean and safe store or seller to ensure it is not contaminated.  On the other hand, seawater fish are generally high in salt content and may need to be avoided by some. Keeping the mercury content in fish in mind is important as high amounts can be detrimental to your health. Also, there have been findings that show allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, caused by red meat. Consume it in moderation and make sure you also consume veggies along with it. [14] Protection Status
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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