Meat is a staple of the modern human’s diet. Science has conclusively determined that the human digestive tract isn’t optimally designed to process meat like predatory animals are. Yet those same scientists have found we wouldn’t be what we are today if early man hadn’t learned to hunt and process animal flesh two and a half million years ago.
Meat allowed man to get more nutrition and expend less energy over foraging and chewing plant foods. It made our teeth smaller and our jaws and necks less muscular to allow room for a larger brain. Meat is the king of all foods and all forms are excellent when combined with an array of veggies and low-glycemic fruits.
Here are the 11 healthiest meats in the world
1. Atlantic Salmon
Atlantic wild-caught salmon is a true superfood among other meats. This yummy fatty fish comes with 2.5 grams of omega 3 fatty acids per three-ounce (100 gram) serving. That same serving size gives you 182 calories and 25 grams of high quality protein. Atlantic salmon are regarded as the healthiest of all salmon species because they reside deep in the ocean, where dangerous chemicals like mercury isn’t as highly concentrated. The list of healthful vitamins and minerals in salmon is very long:
• Selenium: 67 percent RDA
• Vitamin B-12: 51 percent RDA
• Niacin: 50 percent RDA
• Vitamin B-6: 47 percent RDA
• Riboflavin: 29 percent RDA
• Phosphorous: 26 percent RDA
• Pantothenic Acid: 19 percent RDA
• Thiamin: 18 percent RDA
• Potassium: 18 percent RDA
Beef is one of the healthiest meats a person can put in their body. Not only is it rich in protein; beef boasts a nutrient profile that puts most other meats to shame. A three-ounce serving contains large doses of iron, vitamins B-6 and B-12, selenium, magnesium and copper. That same serving is just a little over 200 calories, has 23 grams of protein, and 30 grams of healthy animal fat. Grass fed beef may have lower fat content, so check labels carefully if you’re looking for the leanest cuts you can find.
3. Pork Loin
Pork, affectionately known as “the other white meat” is a healthy low calorie protein source. It’s also the least expensive meat to buy on this list. Bacon might also be considered pork by some of you, but the loin is considered the healthiest due to its high protein, low fat content. Pork loin contains 169 calories per three-ounce serving, and a whopping 29 grams of quality protein. That same serving size also offers half our daily requirement of thiamine and niacin, and generous amounts of riboflavin, B-6, B-12 and pantothenic acid.
Elk are among the most dominant and dangerous animals in the deer family during their mating season (called “rut”). A large mature male can reach 800 pounds and deliver hundreds of pounds of delicious red meat. They tend to spend time in mountainous regions and their meat is highly revered for its taste. Three-ounces of elk meat contains 137 calories, 23 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, and up to 20 percent our daily value of iron.
Deer meat (venison) is among the most delicious of wild red game meat. They eat grasses, leaves, nuts and berries only, and the fact they’re a prey animal makes their meat very lean and protein dense due to all the running they do. A three-ounce serving of venison contains only 134 calories, 26 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat and healthy doses of riboflavin, niacin, and iron. The key to getting the taste right is to let the meat bleed (if fresh) for several hours after it’s harvested, before freezing or cooking. This will cut the gaminess down significantly.
Shellfish are an extremely healthy protein source. Oysters, lobsters, clams, mussels and scallops aren’t just packed with protein and bio-available omega 3 fatty acids, they’re also a great source of zinc. All shellfish are high in fat, but don’t let that stop you, as they contain mostly healthy omega 3 fatty acids that can help prevent inflammation. A three-ounce serving of common shellfish such as oysters, clams or mussels averages only 69 calories and 7 grams of protein, with over 300 percent RDA of omega 3s, 319 percent RDA of B-12, 606 percent RDA of zinc, 51 percent RDA of selenium, and 40 percent of our daily iron needs.
Buffalo (Bison) is very popular among people who have trouble with allergies to other types of meat. It’s considered a non-allergenic food and has a very similar nutrition profile to beef. There’s also a good chance that the buffalo you purchase is raised on an open range, free from antibiotics or steroids. A three-ounce serving of buffalo contains 176 calories, 21 grams of protein, and just 7 grams of fat.
Ducks can be harvested from the wild, or raised in a farm environment. Wild duck meat is gamey while tame duck meat tends to be more neutral in taste and lighter in color. Duck meat contains plenty of iron, riboflavin, and thiamine per serving. A three-ounce serving puts up 102 calories, 16 grams of quality protein, and only 4 grams of fat.
Lambs are sheep that are a year or less in age, making the meat very tender and lean compared to the older sheep. Lamb is higher in calories than most of the red meats listed so far at 294 calories per three-ounce serving, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying it. In fact, lamb meat isn’t marbled in the same way beef is, so you can actually trim away much of the calorie laden fat if you wish. A three-ounce (untrimmed) serving of lamb contains 25 grams of quality protein, 45 percent RDA of vitamin B-12 and 10 percent RDA for iron.
Turkey is a really healthy, protein-dense food that’s great anytime of year. Not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas. A 100 gram serving of skinless turkey breast contains 189 calories, 29 grams of protein, 7 grams of healthy fat, and 6 percent our daily vitamin B-12 needs. Wild turkey is similar, but contains slightly lower calories and hardly any fat whatsoever.
With the skin removed, chicken has slightly less fat than turkey and a gram more ostrich, but much less fat than other types of fowl and certainly any four-legged creatures. A three-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast has over 30 grams of protein, with only 165 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. Opt for free-range, organic chicken when possible.
Meat is a necessary food for healthy growth and development. Vegetarians have notorious nutrient deficiency problems, including a lack of vitamin B-12 and difficulties sourcing affordable protein with a complete amino acid profile. Any of the 11 types of meat discussed on this page are a great choice and the domestic varieties such as pork, beef, turkey and chicken are all well within most people’s budget.