We’re a nation that loves meat and quite honestly, what’s not to love. We’re said to consume around 2.9 million tons of poultry, beef and pork per annum. So yes, it’s fair to say we’re meat lovers. But have you ever wondered what the main difference is between red and white meat and why we’re encouraged to eat more of one than the other?
You’re not alone in your musings.
We all know meat is an excellent source of protein which is absolutely crucial to the human body for growth and maintenance – it provides structure and strength to cells, it controls biochemical reactions, it aids the immune system, it regulates our metabolism and hormones, and it regulates cell division which assists with replenishing aged or damaged cells. So it’s clear to see why we need it, but why should we strike the right balance between red and white?
First off, let’s look at what gives meat its colour. The answer to this would be myoglobin – the cells that move oxygen to muscles in the bloodstream. Myoglobin has a red pigmentation and red meat contains more of it which is why it’s redder and darker than other meat. Muscles that are exercised more are a little darker in colour as well which is why chicken legs, for example, are darker than the breast meat. In most cases, red meat typically refers to beef, pork and lamb; while white meat refers to poultry. Interestingly enough, while marketing efforts have us thinking of pork as the ‘other white meat’ and while it does contain less myoglobin, it is still very much a red meat.
Now on to why we should strike a healthy balance between the relevant consumption. The answer to this would be fat content. Poultry is a leaner source of protein which means it carries less fat and as we should all be mindful of how much saturated fat we consume, we should more often opt for the lighter option. Having said that, red meat remains an essential component of a healthy eating plan because as an excellent source of protein, it contains higher levels of certain vitamins like iron, zinc and vitamin B – and the iron in red meat particularly is more easily absorbed by the body than other sources of iron found in plant-based sources.
So, there you have it – myoglobin and fat content are what set red and white apart. Leading wholesale meat supplier N1 have the best in both, so for the highest quality meat Cape Town and Johannesburg have to offer, contact them today.