Delicious, light and healthy

Meat in Diets

Benefits of eating meat

Meat is an important source of proteins, with a high biological value, which helps to increase and maintain healthy muscle mass and bone structure.
Meat products are also important sources of group B vitamins (B1, B3, B6 and B12), as well as minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and zinc. These substances are nutrients involved in essential body functions, necessary to support the maintenance of bone structure, cognitive development, cardiac functioning, immune system and many others functions.

Red and white meat

Meat has been traditionally classified in red or white, depending on its colour which varies according to its myoglobin chemical form. Myoglobin is a protein present in muscle fibres that conveys oxygen to ensure proper muscle functioning.
Besides the colour differences, from the nutritional point of view, red and white meat differ also according to the fat quantity and quality, in relation to proteins.

Less fat

The high content of saturated fats represents the main risk related to the excessive meat consumption. Eating too much still remains a bad behaviour, but we have to remember that our body needs some fat from food to ensure long-term health. Considerations and opinions have changed also thanks to the efforts made in life stock breeding selection, innovation in feeding formulation and in the pig breeding methods.
The improvement of the meat’s nutritional profile is even more evident in pig meat, which since the 80’s has reduced its fat content by about 30%*. The pig fat quality has consequently changed and is now characterised by a balanced fat distribution, composed of three almost equal parts of saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Pig meat moreover supplies proteins and bioavailable iron, i.e. easily absorbed, together with micronutrients essential in a balanced diet.

Nutrients in 100 grams of pig meat (heavy pig – leg)
Energy 128 kcal Pig meat is characterised by a high nutrient density.
Proteins 20.4 grams The proteins supplied by pig meat consumption are of an extremely high quality, as they delivery essential amino acids that our body is not able to produce.
Fats 5.1 grams The correct dietary fat intake guarantees energy and fatty acids essential for the natural balance of the body. Useful also to transport fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and E). In pig meat unsaturated fats represent 60% of the total fat.

Source: SSICA, elaboration of Food Composition Tables – Update 2000 – INRAN and USDA Tables

Micronutrients in 100 grams of pig meat (heavy pig – leg)
Vitamins and minerals Percentage of daily requirements satisfied Benefits of micronutrients
Thiamine (B1) 26% Thiamine is essential for the correct conversion of carbohydrates into of energy.
Riboflavin (B2) 19% Riboflavin is involved in the energy transformation process and in the maintenance of body tissues.
Niacin (B3) 21% Niacin is involved in the energy transformation process, in the production of the growth hormone, in the maintenance of the epithelial tissue and nerve function.
Vitamin B6 33% Vitamin essential for the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fat. Important also for the normal functioning of the central nervous system.
Vitamin B12 36% Involved in the red blood cell formation, in the nerve function and in the energy transformation processes. The daily intake is of 1.2 micrograms. Meat, and in particular pig meat, is the best source.
Phosphorous 22% Aids normal functioning of tissues and teeth development, as well as ensuring the proper energy balance.
Iron 17% Iron has several vital functions, as it fundamental for cellular respiration processes, synthesis of collagen and metabolism of nucleic acids. The average absorption of heme iron from meat-containing meals is about 25 -30%, whereas non-heme iron absorption, obtained from eggs and vegetables, is only 2-5%.
Zinc 20% This mineral is essential for healthy growth, wound healing, immune system and sensitivity of taste and smell senses.
Selenium 36% Mineral that functions as antioxidant, promotes fat absorption and proper heart muscle functionality.

Source: SSICA, elaboration of Food Composition Tables – Update 2000 – INRAN and USDA Tables

* Marcello Mele, Giuseppe Pulina (edited by), “Alimenti di origine animale e salute” (Food of animal origin and health), FrancoAngeli 2016.