Nutritional tips: Healthy oils and Red Meat

There is a lot of misinformation and long held myths about a healthy diet. In this article we take a closer look at some of these myths to clear up confusion and give some nutrition tips that guides us in the right direction. Good nutrition involve eating a variety fresh organically grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Locally grown and in season is even better. The same goes for meat and animal products. Cattle should be grass fed and allowed to roam on pasture. Chickens should be free range.

Most of the meat that we consume today comes from huge industrial farms that keeps animals in pens, feed them grains and then give them antibiotics because they get sick from eating the grains. Cows can’t really digest grains and it can causes infection in their digestive tract. They are given antibiotics for this purpose.They are also given hormones to fatten them up quickly for the slaughter house. When we consume their meat, milk, eggs, cheese etc… we also consume these hormones, antibiotics and unnatural and unhealthy fats.

Should We Avoid Red Meat

Here is myth number one. Red meat is bad for you. Meat even red meat is not that unhealthy if it is raised naturally and if consumed in moderation. In fact it has its own great nutritional benefits. Iron from meat is the most absorb-able and is one of the best sources of the B vitamins. The naturally raised cattle are usually leaner because they haven’t been given growth hormones. Most importantly the type of fat they have is different They have a lot more Omega-3 fatty acids than there antibiotic and hormone fed counterparts. Not only that, they have another cancer fighting fat known as linolenic acid which are absent in the factory farmed cattle.

Most of the ill effects of consuming red meat that is reported such as cancers and Alzheimer have to do more with the quality of the meat, how much and how it is consumed rather than just simply having red meat in your diet. The scientific studies are done on the typical Western diet. This diet usually consists of high amounts of processed meat from factory farms, not much fiber and very high in sugar. So it is no wonder studies show that red meat is the cause of serious diseases. In my opinion red meat in and of itself is not bad for you but is in fact good for most humans. They should be eaten in moderation accompanied with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits

How to Cook Meat

To cook or sear meat at high heat use oils with high smoking points such as almond oil and avocado oil. The smoking point of oil is the point it breaks down and produces carcinogens. The healthiest way to cook red meat is rare or medium, not well done. The burned meats that we see at barbecues that tastes so good are not good for us. The black charred meat is full of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). It is the chemical formed when fat from the red meat burns. We should avoid placing meat directly on a flame and charring it. A more serious problem can occur if we leave meat on the grill at high heat for too long. Chemical reactions inside the meat start producing what is known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Study after study has shown that there is a link between consuming this meat in high amounts and developing cancer. When you grill meat keep turning it every minute to avoid the formation of HCA.

Is a Low Fat Diet Healthy?

Another myth I want to bust is that all fats are bad for you. Fat is a necessary component to our diet. About 30% of our daily calories should come from fat. Good fat that comes from, extra virgin olive, cold pressed flax seed oil, sesame oil, almond oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil are all good for you . Used appropriately and in moderation they all have great health benefits. Most of these oils should be produced with as little heat as possible because they are labile and may become rancid. Cold pressed oils that are stored in an opaque or dark bottle will be best. It is important to know how to cook with them. Some oils should not be used for high heat cooking. For instance extra virgin oil should not be used for that purpose because it is highly labile and produces free radicals. There are oils that are suitable for that such as almond oil and avocado oil. If the heat used is not very high regular olive oil (not extra virgin oil) certified clarified butter, peanut oil can be used. All of these oils have their smoke point at which point they start forming free radicals. If the oil you are cooking with starts smoking then it has reached a dangerous point and should be discarded. Below is a table that shows the type of oil, smoking points, health benefits, and the best way to cook with them.

The best way to store oils that are heat sensitive is in an opaque bottle in the refrigerator.

Healthy Oils: How to Use Them

Type of oil
Smoke Point in degree fahrenheit
Best Use
Health benefits
sauteing, stir frying, searing, baking
high in omega 3 essential fatty acids
Making popcorn
high in vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E
90% saturated
antiviral, antibacterial properties
protein shakes
reduces cholesterol and inflamation
drizzle on salads or vegetables
highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids
unrefined extra virgin: 320
salads, cooking (do not use extra virgin for cooking: heat will creat free radical
high in antioxidants
monounsaturated, some polyunsaturated and saturated
refined 420 unrefined 320
stir frying, sauteing
resistant to rancidity
monounsaturated, polyunsaturated
refined, 410 unfefined, 350
stir frying, Asian salads
high in vitamin E, detoxifying properties

Coconut Oil

Here is another wide held assumption that might change in the future and be added to the list of myths. Research is being done on it and the evidence seem to point towards it being beneficial to our health. Is coconut oil bad for you? I know it is very controversial. Coconut oil has been touted as one of the worst oils for years because it is saturated fat and was implicated in heart disease. All saturated fat was regarded as dangerous and coconut oil has been removed from super market shelves. Lots of research has been done and is still being done and there is strong evidence that coconut oil has positive and not negative effects on our health. It does contain saturated fat but it is believed to be the good kind. It is called medium chain triglyceride (MCT). These fats are easy to metabolize. The body uses them up quickly for energy so you don’t gain weight from them. Coconut oil also contains a special fatty acid called lauric acid which has been shown to be an immune system booster. There is evidence that it has an antiviral, antibacterial properties and may protect against some cancers. There is one important point I should make though. Coconut oil should be produced naturally without heat for it to be healthy.

Is Canola Oil Healthy Oil?

The other myth is that canola oil is healthy. Canola has always been controversial. Ever since it came on the market I have been hearing on and off that it is not really the healthy oil that it is supposed to be. The omega-3 in canola becomes rancid when it goes through high heat processing. Then it has to be deodorized. The deodorization turns the fat into trans-fat. The same goes for grape seed and safflower oil unless they are cold pressed.

In conclusion what I would like to emphasize is that not to go to extremes. Red meat, especially one that comes from naturally raised cattle eaten about three or four times a month is not harmful especially if consumed along with plenty of  fresh vegetables and fruits. Fats are necessary in our diet. We need to choose the good kind and use them properly. They are not usually the culprit in obesity, sugars are. This article hopefully gave you some important nutrition tips and dispelled some myths.

The Harvard Medical school Food Pyramid Compared to USDA Food Pyramid

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Comments 8 comments

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

Love this hub--it has lots of interesting information. I learned that canola oil may not be as healthy as thought. Thanks.

lelanew55 profile image

lelanew55 6 years ago Author

Anginwu thank you so much and congratulations on all your wins in the contest. I am going to go over to your hubs and read some more. I find them so informative. I am voting for you for sure.

Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Good hub, lelane! Thanks so much for clarifying this for us. Can never know too much regarding our intake! Well done!

lelanew55 profile image

lelanew55 6 years ago Author

Thank you Ann. I am glad you find this useful.

Patti Ann profile image

Patti Ann 6 years ago from Florida

Great information - we all get so confused with all of the conflicting advice on nutrition.

lelanew55 profile image

lelanew55 6 years ago Author

Thank you Patti Ann. Yes, we all get overwhelmed and confused with so much information and misinformation. But when it comes to our body and what we put in it, we should try to take the time to find out what is good and what is harmful.

Melanie Munn 6 years ago

I try not to eat very much red meat. However, I do eat it sparingly for it's iron. I try to eat high quality, low fat meat when I do.

lelanew55 profile image

lelanew55 6 years ago Author

Good for you Melanie. That is the way to go. And thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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