The Fat Content of Red Meat

Contrary to popular belief, lean red meat does not contain high levels of fat or saturated fat. The total fat content of red meat has been considerably reduced over the last 40 years and the amount of fat in red meat is actually much lower than most people think.

The application of improved animal breeding and butchery techniques means that fully trimmed lean red meat typically contain between 4g – 10g of fat per 100g. Despite common reference to animal fats as being ‘saturated’, red meat contains both saturated and unsaturated fats. Indeed, lean beef and pork contain more unsaturated fat than saturated fat. Red meat also contains small amounts of omega-3 polyunsaturates, which help keep the heart healthy, especially in people who’ve already had a heart attack.

Saturated Fat

Originally, all saturated fats were thought to be associated with increased blood cholesterol, but it has become apparent that individual saturated fatty acids differ in their effect. One of the main saturated fatty acids present in red meat is called stearic acid and there is evidence that this fatty acid has no adverse effects on cholesterol levels in the blood.

A food is defined as ‘high’ in saturated fat if it contains 5g (or more) saturated fat per 100g. A food is defined as ‘low’ in saturated fat if it contains 1.5g (or less) saturated fat or less per 100g. Most lean red meats are, therefore, not high in saturated fat and contain only moderate amounts (see table below).

Saturated fat content, per 100g, lean cooked red meat

Red meat cut
Saturated fat
Lean beef rump steak, grilled 2.5g
Lean beef topside 2.1g
Lean stewing beef 2.3g
Lean lamb loin chops, grilled 4.9g
Lean leg of lamb, roasted 3.8g
Lean stewing lamb 6.5g
Lean diced cubed pork 1.6g
Lean loin chops, grilled 2.2g
Lean pork leg, roasted 1.9g

Source: Meat and Health

Cooking Fats and Oils

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All cooking fats and oils are made up of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids in different proportions.

Generally, oils and fats with a high proportion of saturated fat are less healthy than those with higher poly and mono unsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol, omega-3 polyunsaturates may help protect against heart disease and omega-6 fatty acids may help with growth and brain function.

Monounsaturated fats can also help lower cholesterol if they replace saturated fats. Monounsaturated fats may also help decrease the risk of breast cancer and rheumatoid arthritis pain.

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Korean-style Pork Belly Rice Bowl


2 tablespoons oil
8 oz thinly sliced pork belly
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups kimchi
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
2 portions of cooked medium-grain rice
1 stalk green onion, chopped


  1. Heat a wok or skillet over high heat just until smoking. Add the oil, followed by the pork belly, and stir-fry for 1 minute (or until slightly caramelized).
  2. Add the onion, kimchi, and sugar, and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add the gochujang and cook for another minute.
  4. Serve over rice, and garnish with green onion.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: The Wok of Life

Better Dieting Through Chemistry

Arianne Cohen wrote . . . . . .

First, the shake: At 950 calories, 61 grams of fat, 20g of protein, and 75g of sugars in just 14 ounces of fluid, it’s the centerpiece of the starter kit for Habit LLC, a new individualized nutrition company. It’s also a beast. Even tackling it after a 10-hour fast, as instructed, I have a hard time getting it all down.

Joshua Anthony, founding chief science officer at Habit and one of the shake’s architects, urges me to persevere. “It’s a lot of shake, because it’s designed to be a food challenge,” he says. “Your body has to respond to the overload—the whole process of digestion, absorption, and distribution of those nutrients. How your body manages that gives us important insights about how your body is functioning today.”

Habit aims to be the 23andMe of your metabolism. After I finish the shake, I take samples of my blood periodically over the next two hours and send them back to Habit’s lab in Nashville, along with three swabs of DNA from the inside of my cheek. Within four weeks, I’ll receive a personalized nutrition plan based on my body chemistry and have a coaching session by phone with a dietitian, all for $299. Three additional coaching sessions can be had for $150.

The company was started by Neil Grimmer, co-founder and chairman of Plum Organics, which makes those now ubiquitous baby food pouches. A former triathlete, he developed “CEO disease” during his eight years at the helm of Plum, he says, gaining 50 pounds from “too much coffee and not enough healthy food.” In 2013, shortly after Campbell Soup Co. acquired Plum, he shed the weight with the help of individualized attention from scientists and doctors he’d worked with at the company. This, it occurred to him, might be something others would be interested in.

“When you create a highly personalized business model,” he says, “you can start to wrap additional products and services around it catering to the individual”—say, a meal delivery service, which Habit operates in the Bay Area; a nationwide rollout to major metropolitan areas is planned for the next few months. (The company is currently limiting the shipping of its test kits to the Bay Area; sign up at Habit’s website to be notified when it starts shipping to your city.)

The personalized nutrition market is particularly ripe right now, says Marion Nestle, a molecular biologist and professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University—although most academics are dubious. “All these venture capital companies are just dying to get involved in some sort of food enterprise, because diet is hard for people, and there are people who will love this,” she says. Campbell’s certainly thinks so: It’s backing Habit to the tune of $32 million.

When my results arrive, I find that Habit has deemed me a “protein seeker,” in need of a 35 percent protein diet. I share this with Nestle, who expresses some skepticism. Average protein intake, she says, is about 15 percent, and it’s hard to get higher than that without supplements. Habit doesn’t disclose the algorithm it uses to make its analyses, nor has it published any peer-reviewed research on the efficacy of its dietary prescriptions, so it’s not clear which of the 60 biometric markers the company tests for triggered the advice. I ask Nestle if Habit’s diet recommendations are trustworthy. “They might be, but how would you know?” she says with a sigh. “I’m sure it’s based on something.”

Anthony says that as the size of Habit’s data sets increases, the company will begin to publish research, beginning with a paper he’s planning to present at the Experimental Biology conference in April about nutritional shake composition. (I could provide some customer input.) Transparency, he says, is “super important to us.” Perhaps the current lack thereof is just a little growing pain.

Source: Bloomberg

A Healthier Weight May Mean Fewer Migraines

Kathleen Doheny wrote . . . . . .

Your weight just might influence your risk of migraine headaches, a new review finds.

“Those with migraine and [their] doctors need to be aware that excessive weight and extreme weight loss are not good for [migraine sufferers], and that maintaining a healthy weight can decrease the risk of migraine,” said study corresponding author Dr. B. Lee Peterlin.

She is director of headache research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“Healthy lifestyle choices in terms of weight management and diet and exercise are warranted,” she added.

Migraines affect about 12 percent of U.S. adults, according to background information from Johns Hopkins. These debilitating headaches are often accompanied by throbbing, nausea and sensitivity to light and sounds.

Peterlin’s team evaluated 12 previously published studies with nearly 300,000 people, a process known as a meta-analysis.

The investigators found that obese people were 27 percent more likely to have migraines than people who were at a normal weight.

And those who were underweight were 13 percent more likely to have migraines.

The researchers used the standard definitions of both obesity — a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher — and underweight, a BMI of less than 18.5. A person who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds has a BMI of 30, while someone of the same height who weighs 105 has a BMI of 18.

In previous research, Peterlin’s team found that the link between obesity and migraines was greater for women and for those under the age of 55. This new study reaffirmed those findings.

The new review found that the link between obesity and migraines is a moderate one, Peterlin said. It’s similar to the link between migraines and ischemic heart disease, in which the heart doesn’t get enough blood, she added.

Peterlin said she can’t explain with certainty how body composition affects migraine risk. But, she speculated that fat tissue “is an endocrine organ and like other endocrine organs, such as the thyroid, too much and too little cause problems.”

The change in fat tissue that occurs with weight gain or extreme weight loss alters the function and production of several proteins and hormones, Peterlin explained, changing the inflammatory environment in the body. This could make a person more prone to a migraine or it could trigger a migraine, she said.

However, the study only found an association, and not a cause-and-effect relationship, between weight and migraine risk.

The review was published in the journal Neurology.

Would weight loss or gain help? It’s not certain, Peterlin said.

“Limited data in humans show that in both episodic and chronic [migraine sufferers] who are extremely obese and undergo bariatric surgery for other health reasons also have a reduction in headache frequency by over 50 percent,” she said. Aerobic exercise has also been shown to decrease headaches.

“What is not yet clear is if it is the weight loss per se or other factors related to exercise that result in the improvement,” Peterlin said.

One headache specialist who wasn’t involved with the study lauded the findings.

The new analysis is “a valuable addition to the growing body of literature on migraine and body mass index,” said Dawn Buse, director of behavioral medicine at the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City.

With her patients, Buse said, she has seen migraine frequency increase with weight gain. And she has also seen improvement in migraines after weight loss, she said.

Buse acknowledged that, while weight loss appears to help, losing weight can be challenging. Health care professionals should discuss with their patients the relationship with migraines, and help them by providing education and referrals for treatments that may help weight loss.

Source: HealthDay

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