The health benefits of red meat at key life stages
Explore the important role that red meat plays in fulfilling our nutritional needs at every stage of life.
Because it’s packed with the 12 essential nutrients recommended for good health, red meat plays an important role in a healthy diet at any age.
Eating Australian red meat in three to four healthy, balanced meals a week provides an excellent source of protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and a source of omega-3s.
Here’s how red meat can contribute to good health at key life stages…
Red meat in early childhood
Iron is essential for growing bodies, so introducing iron-rich foods to children from as young as six months of age is recommended. It is at that age that their iron requirements can no longer be met by breast milk or formula alone.
Because the iron in red meat is so well absorbed by the body, it’s a great way for babies and toddlers to get enough iron for healthy growth and development. Red meat also contains zinc – another important nutrient for growing bodies.
Meeting the iron needs of young women with red meat
Women of childbearing age require twice the amount of iron that men do, but their smaller appetites can make it challenging to meet those needs. Low iron stores can adversely affect mental and physical well being, so eating red meat three to four times a week in healthy, balanced meals is an easy way for women to get enough iron, along with another important nutrient – zinc.
Preventing muscle loss in the over-65s with red meat
If you’re over 65, you will need to consume more protein to prevent muscle loss. In combination with strength exercise, protein helps build and repair muscle, and is important for maintaining an active and ultimately independent lifestyle as we age.
With 32g of protein per 100g serving of cooked meat, red meat is an easy way to achieve this recommendation along with 11 other essential nutrients recommended for good health, even if your appetite naturally decreases as you get older and you are enjoying that 100g of meat in meals over a few days.
Managing weight with nutrient-rich red meat
Getting enough of the essential nutrients recommended for good health can be a challenge if you’re consciously trying to manage your weight by eating less. That’s where nutrient-rich foods like lean red meat play an important role. Red meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein and contains relatively low levels of saturated fat.
Red meat for muscle health in athletes
Nutrient-rich foods such as red meat play an important role in ensuring a nutritionally appropriate diet for athletes. Red meat’s high-quality protein helps build and repair muscle after exercise, while also helping to fulfil the additional iron requirements of female athletes.
Did you know?
- Red meat is a popular source of omega-3 in the Australian diet, contributing to around 12% of intake.
- Zinc, an important nutrient for healthy bone development, fertility and immunity, is readily absorbed by our bodies from red meat compared to zinc found in plant foods.
- Beef and lamb contain more iron and zinc than pork, fish and chicken and are easier for the body to absorb than the iron and zinc found in plant foods.