Go Lean in 2018

For more than a decade, nutritionist and health care professionals have been highlighting the benefits of choosing lean meats. Join me today in unraveling the whys and hows of selecting your lean meat. 

Chicken seems to be many people’s go-to protein when trying to incorporate low fat meat in their diet. This is sold in many different varieties including whole or parts with options for skinless and boneless varieties.  Both chicken thighs and breasts are good sources of lean protein, however they are actually two different types of meat. Some people prefer the taste of dark meat over white and consider it to be more tender and flavorful. But which is healthier?  

First, the dark meat gets its color difference because these muscles use more oxygen to function. In the body, oxygen must bind to iron and is the cause of the darker color. Therefore dark meat does in fact have more iron than white meat. In contrast to iron, white meat has less calories, total fat, and saturated fat. This is due to how the bird’s body fuels the muscles. For a chicken, the body energizes the breast and wings with a carbohydrate substance to allow for short bursts of energy when flapping their wings. On the other hand, fat fuels the lower half of the body that needs a more consist energy source for standing and running. Because these fuel sources are trapped in the meat, you also consume these as calories. 

 Fish is another lean meat where the benefits are highly communicated. Eating at least 2 serving per week has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, delay the onset of dementia, and (if you’re pregnant) make your baby smarter and healthier. However, once you get to the counter we are all faced with and array of different types of fish along with the decision of farm raised or wild. If you’re like me, at this point I start thinking about the nutritional benefits and environmental issues. Choosing the right fish is going to depend on the kind of fish as well as how it is fished or farmed.

Despite what many believe, now a day’s farm raised and wild fish are both fairly nutritionally equal. There may be some slight differences, but the beneficial Omega-3-Fatty Acids seem to be very comparable. On the flip side, mercury content between types of fish differ. As a rule of thumb older, larger, predatory fish and marine mammals (such as swordfish, king mackerel. tilefish, shark, and tuna) tend to be higher in mercury and should be avoided at certain stages of your life. Also make sure that you are staying educated on local advisories when eating fish caught by friends and families.

Now that you have armed yourself with the details on selecting the perfect lean meat, also remember that cooking matters too!  How you choose to prepared your meat will also make a difference in the amount of calories and fat. Baking, grilling and roasting are considered healthier options when compared to frying foods.  At home, keeping the skin on while cooking the chicken and removing it before eating will help keep chicken and turkey moist while reducing the calories and fat. Also feel free to check out our healthy twist to Crab Roll to help meet the American Heart Association’s recommendation while not breaking the bank.

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