Substantial Health Benefit from Replacing Steak with Fish

Miriam Meister wrote . . . . . . . . .

The average Dane will gain a health benefit from substituting part of the red and processed meat in their diet with fish, according to calculations from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark. Men over 50 and women of childbearing age in particular would benefit from such a change in diet.

In a PhD study at the National Food Institute, Sofie Theresa Thomsen has developed a method to calculate the total health impact of replacing one food with another in the diet. The method has been used to assess the health impact that would be achieved by replacing red and processed meat with fish, so the intake reaches the recommended weekly intake of 350 grams of fish.

Fish is an important source of healthy fatty acids and vitamin D, but may also contain potentially harmful substances such as methylmercury. Red and processed meat contributes to the intake of saturated fat in the Danish diet and is associated with the development of different types of cancer, but red meat is also an important source of e.g. dietary iron. Replacing red and processed meat with fish in the Danish diet can therefore have a health impact on human health.

Seven thousand healthy years of life to be gained annually

Risk-benefit assessments weigh up the beneficial and adverse health effects by estimating how many healthy years of life a population gains because of health improvements, or lose due to reduced quality of life or by dying earlier than expected.

This is exactly what Sofie Theresa Thomsen has done in her calculations.

“They show that the Danish population as a whole can gain up to 7,000 healthy years of life annually, if all adult Danes eat fish in the recommended quantities while at the same time reducing their meat intake. This estimate covers among others the prevention of approximately 170 deaths from coronary heart disease per year,” she says.

However, the health benefit depends on the type of fish people put on their plates, as well as the age and sex of the persons whose diet is being altered.

Go easy on the tuna

The greatest health benefit comes from eating only fatty fish (such as herring and mackerel) or a mixture of fatty and lean fish (such as plaice and pollock), while a smaller health gain is achieved by eating only lean fish. This is because fatty fish contain larger amounts of beneficial fatty acids.

On the other hand, the calculations show a significant health loss if tuna is the only type of fish in the diet, because tuna is both low in beneficial fatty acids and can have high concentrations of methylmercury. The health loss is calculated as particularly high among women of childbearing age, as intake of fish with a high concentration of methylmercury can damage unborn children’s brain development.

Furthermore, the study shows that it is possible to reduce the proportion of Danes who have an insufficient intake of vitamin D significantly by replacing some of the red and processed meat with a mixture of fatty and lean fish. The study also points out that the proportion of Danes with an insufficient intake of dietary iron will not increase despite the lowered meat intake.

Greatest effect among men over 50 and childbearing women

The study shows large variations in the overall health impact when the red and processed meat gives way to fish. Everyone over the age of 50—but the men in particular—as well as women of childbearing age will reap the greatest health benefits from eating 350 grams of fish weekly, of which 200 grams are fatty fish.

For men, this is because the group as a whole is at higher risk than other population groups of developing cardiovascular disease. The risk is reduced by replacing part of the red meat with fish that contain fatty acids, which can prevent cardiovascular disease.

“In women of childbearing age the health benefit is particularly large because the intake of fish containing healthy fish oils will not only benefit the women themselves. The health-promoting properties of fish will also have a beneficial effect in the development of their unborn children, which is taken into account in the overall calculations,” Sofie Theresa Thomsen explains.

Useful when developed intervention strategies and dietary advice

The methods developed in the PhD study are useful e.g. when examining the health effects of various interventions designed to promote healthy eating habits or when developing official dietary guidelines.

Source: National Food Institute


Video: Tasting the World’s First Test-Tube Steak

Israeli-based Aleph Farms says it has created the world’s first steak grown in a lab. We got a taste.

The race is on to create lab-grown meat products. Still, little is known about their safety and potential impact. In this episode of Moving Upstream, WSJ’s Jason Bellini visits entrepreneurs, scientists, and ranchers to understand how it’s made, and gets a first taste of steak grown from cultured cells.

Watch video at The Wall Street Journal (9:58 minutes) . . . . .

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Aleph Farms Puts a Steak in the Ground, Unveils New Cell-Based Cut of Meat . . . . .

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In Pictures: Some of the Best Steaks Around the World

Seven Ways You’re Ruining Your Steak Dinner

Richard Vines wrote . . . . . . .

Richard H. Turner is serious about meat. The chef behind the popular British steakhouse chain Hawksmoor doesn’t mince his words.

Grain-fed beef? Gives you an “instant slap round the chops, and then the fat explodes in your mouth like a pustule,” he says. Wagyu beef is “despicable, the foie gras of the beef world.”

Turner is the go-to guy in London for matters of the flesh. He brought the Meatopia festival to the U.K. from the U.S. and founded Turner & George, a specialty butcher shop. And he just came out with his latest book, “Prime: The Beef Cookbook.” Who better to ask about cooking steak at home?

Here are the seven top mistakes people make that leave a bad taste in his mouth.

1. Choosing the wrong meat

Buy online or go to a butcher. Supermarkets can have good steak, Turner says. “The problem is they also have mediocre steak, and it’s all mixed up together,” he says. “You are playing roulette.” If you do buy from a store, look for beef that is described as aged or matured.

2. Tossing it immediately on the pan

Turner recommends allowing the steaks to sit for 30 minutes before cooking, then drying them off. They are better at room temperature, and it can be difficult to get a crust on a wet steak. Season the steak aggressively with sea salt. Throw a handful over the tray of meat, and what sticks should be the correct amount. Avoid table salt, which contains anti-caking agents that are unsuited to steak.

3. Turning up the heat

Fine, sear it at first. But don’t leave it too hot for too long. “Once you’ve got that sear, it needs to be moved away, and it needs to be cooked at a lower temperature,” he says. “That way, you don’t tense the meat up. It doesn’t go tough.”

4. Putting it under the broiler

Turner reckons that beef needs direct, physical contact with the heat source — rather than broiling it — to trigger what’s known as the Maillard, or the chemical reaction that happens when amino acids interact with the sugars, similar to caramelization. For that browning to occur, you need a hot pan, he says. “You need that instant heat, and then take the temperature down, but it needs contact to get the Maillard going,” he says. Flip the steak frequently to keep it moist.

5. Thinking you’re macho by eating it rare

“The French will say it should be cooked rare,” Turner says. “The Spanish are worse. They have theirs all blue.” At a minimum, he likes to cook beef medium rare, but he prefers medium himself. “The fat needs to break down into the muscle,” he says.

6. Shuttling it out right away

We know you want to get your grass-fed steak to the dinner table piping hot. But for optimal flavor, you need to leave it to “rest” somewhere warm, but away from direct heat, for a period of time before serving. That means off the pan. You can use a warm plate loosely covered with a foil dome to retain the heat. That way, the juices get distributed through the meat. “Resting is possibly the most important single thing you can do to beef,” Turner says. “Cook for less time than you plan and rest for more. About 20 minutes is perfect. The flavor improves no end.” One exception: Grain-fed beef, popular in America, doesn’t need the extra time.

7. Never getting saucy

Why mess with a good steak by adding additional flavoring? For one, because sauces and steak can be delicious, especially if you eat steak as frequently as Turner. “I like to mix it up,” he says. “I’m a fan of Stilton hollandaise and anchovy hollandaise.” He also recommends beef butter created by Hawksmoor’s executive chef, Matt Brown. “It’s a mixture of unsalted butter, dripping, Maldon sea salt, and anchovies,” he says. “It’s pretty special.”

Source: Bloomberg