Meat and Your Diet
Variety is the key to healthy eating. Including a variety of foods including meat, poultry, fish, and meat alternatives in your diet is what makes eating pleasurable, and also ensures an adequate intake of various essential nutrients from the Meat and Alternatives food group. Meat and Alternatives typically provide you with protein, fat, fat-soluble vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and B vitamins. Lean pork is a tasty and nutrient-rich choice, comparing well with other nutritious meat, poultry and fish choices.
|How Does Pork Compare?|
|Pork Tenderloin (roasted)||Chicken Breast (skinless, roasted)||Beef Tenderloin (roasted)||Salmon Chinook (spring; baked or broiled)|
|% Recommended Daily Intake**|
Source: Canadian Nutrient File, 2007b
*cholesterol value not calculated in 2007 -value is from 2001
**Daily Recommended Intake based on female aged 19-50 years (2001, National Academy of Science)
Why Eat Meat?
Reasons to avoid eating meat may be very personal. However, meat plays an important role in our diet and its nutritional qualities should not be underestimated. Including lean meat in a healthy eating plan is a tasty and easy way to get a compact source of good nutrition. Being a vegetarian does not ensure a healthy diet: if you choose to remove meat from your diet, you will need to substitute food choices to replace the nutrients provided by meat.
Protein - People who do not eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs or dairy products may not consume sufficient high-quality protein to meet their needs. Vegetarians must ensure that they eat a variety of plant proteins, like legumes, tofu, nuts or nut butters, throughout the day. Foods of animal origin are concentrated sources of high-quality protein.
Iron - Iron is a nutrient of concern particularly for growing children and women of child-bearing age. Foods from plant sources do contain iron, but it is often not absorbed as well.
Zinc - Zinc is essential mineral for growth, repairing body cells and energy production. Without meat, poultry and seafood, zinc may be deficient in a vegetarian diet. Many foods of plant origin contain zinc - but animal foods contain more. The ability for our bodies to absorb zinc from plant sources is poor.
Vitamin B12 - Vitamin B12 is found only in foods from animal sources. Vegans who never consume foods of animal origin may risk vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 can be obtained from fortified foods or supplements containing vitamin B12, such as nutritional yeast.
NOTE: Should you wish to consult a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for a personalized eating plan, check your local Yellow Pages listing for "Dietitians & Nutritionists" or call your local health department dietitian/nutritionist.
Also, visit www.dietitians.ca to find a nutrition professional