Meat has an important role in the human diet. It’s an excellent protein source for balanced diets. And it’s also, rich in several nutrients.
Most African households cannot afford meat. Therefore it’s not part of their everyday diet. This is due to the high costs of buying meat. However, unhealthy eating habits make meat consumption harmful. This is because most people eat too much meat. As a result, the body is overwhelmed. And this causes a lot of health problems. Others tend to prefer fatty meat cuts. And all these unhealthy eating habits harm human health.
In the previous article, we talked about unhealthy eating habits in Africa. If you haven’t read that article read here.
In this article, we discuss the dangers and effects of fatty meat cuts to health. We also discuss how to reduce dietary meat fats. But first, let’s define fatty meat cuts.
Please read the article to the end. There is a free infographic in the conclusion.
Defining fatty meat cuts
Fatty meat cuts are meat portions with high-fat content. The fat is usually visible to the naked eye. Fatty meat cuts have high cholesterol and saturated fatty acid content. This makes them harmful to health.
Small amounts of fatty meat can provide saturated fats and cholesterol that exceed dietary recommendations.
This consumption of fatty meat cuts is harmful to health. Because most people have a high preference for fatty meat cuts. As evidenced by the love of pork and ribs for braaing and grilling. The sizzling effects and aromas of fatty meats are highly appetizing. In Zimbabwe, the common phrase in butcheries is “isa iyo inemafuta”. This means “give me that fatty meat cut.”
Is meat unhealthy?
No! Meat, in general, is not as unhealthy as portrayed. It is one of the most nutrient-rich foods available. However, general health information on meat consumption is confusing and misleading. Why?
Because this information labels meat as unhealthy. Because it has a high fat and cholesterol content. Which increases risks of heart problems and cardiovascular diseases. However, only unhealthy eating habits make meat a health hazard. And not all meats are high in saturated fats and cholesterol. While some like pork chops and chicken skin have high-fat content, some like chicken breast and loin have very low-fat content.
But why do people prefer fatty meat cuts if they are dangerous? Well, don’t worry. Your answer is just down below!
Meat has a high protein and vitamin B12 content. Which makes it an excellent source for both nutrients. This makes it a very good part of the diet. However, the dangers posed by cholesterol and saturated fatty acids outweigh these health benefits. This makes fatty meat unhealthy.
Overconsumption of meat and meat products is associated with many diet-related disorders. An unhealthy eating habit such makes eating meat harmful. These include preferences for fatty meat cuts. Fatty meats as explained below, have harmful effects on health.
Why do people prefer fatty meat cuts?
People see fatty meat cuts as the meat of high quality. Having visible fat is a meat quality measure. It defines how healthy an animal was before slaughter. A big reason why fatty meat consumption remains part of unhealthy eating habits in Africa.
Tricksters sell meat from sick, dead and unhealthy animals. The meat is usually unattractive and bare muscle tissues. This happens due to poor regulation in the food industry. So, the amount of fat on meat assures consumers that the meat was at least healthy. This perception is not always correct.
The signature phrase “nyama ine mafuta here or yakanuna here” is thrown around a lot in Zimbabwe. The phrase means, “Is the meat fatty/ was the animal healthy?” A question used to verify if the meat quality is good. Most times people reject meat lacking visible fat. Because it has been ingrained in society that fatty meat has the best quality. But is it true? It’s very difficult to eliminate such unhealthy eating habits in Africa and anywhere. Below is an explanation, why preferring fatty meat cuts is a very bad idea!
Many people may wonder why fatty meat consumption is an unhealthy dietary habit. Here is the reason why!
What’s dangerous in fatty meat cuts?
Meat fat is made of cholesterol, saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Fatty meat also contains a lot of cholesterol. These fatty acids and cholesterol contribute to the development of several chronic diseases.
The amount of fat in meat depends on the type of meat. It also depends on the organ the meat is taken from. Pork meat has the highest fat content. And pork chops have the highest content of meat fat. Followed closely by poultry skin. The skin have the highest fat content in poultry.
High fatty meat consumption also means a higher intake of dietary fat and cholesterol. The dietary intake of these is higher than the recommended values. This is why preferring fat meat cuts is unhealthy. And the practice becomes an unhealthy diet habit.
Fatty meat usually comes from pen fattened animals. Pen fattening is done using specific stock feeds. The stock feeds contain hormones and antibiotics. And these antibiotics and hormone residues remain in meat after slaughter. This has a negative effect on human health. Antibiotic residues contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans. And this makes it ineffective to use antibiotics to treat human diseases.
Dangers associated with eating fatty meat
Eating fatty meat cuts and overconsumption of meat is harmful to health.
It increases the size of white adipose tissue. This results in weight and fat gain. In other words, eating fatty meat makes you fat. And fat gain is a risk factor for several chronic diseases.
A diet rich in fatty meat cuts is harmful. Because it increases the dietary intake of cholesterol and saturated fats. This increases heart disease risks.
Overconsumption of fatty meat increases the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
Too much dietary fat increases the risk of developing cancer.
Fat also carries more calories than the same amount of carbohydrates. Fatty meat cuts are not good for weight management!
High intake of dietary fats induces the release of inflammatory proteins. These proteins induce inflammation and insulin resistance in the body. Which increases risks of metabolic syndrome. The inflammation also contributes to loss of insulin sensitivity. This results in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Diets rich in saturated fats (fatty meat cuts) contribute to the development of obesity. Also, saturated fats increase risk factors for diet-related type 2 diabetes. And overeating fatty red meat results in the development of kidney problems. Read more about kidney problems and red meat in 13 Healthy eating habits for your family.
How do saturated fatty acids and cholesterol in fatty meat cuts cause cardiovascular problems?
A good question isn’t it? There is a lot of technical jargon that surrounds these subjects. Let’s try to simplify!
Unhealthy eating habits can damage heart health. This includes overconsumption of fatty meat. Fatty meat has a high bad fat content.
High consumption of fatty meat cuts increases dietary saturated fat uptake. This elevates levels of Low-Density Lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol in the body. It also elevates blood plasma cholesterol levels. This increases risks of cardiovascular diseases. Diseases that have harmful effects to heart health. And they include strokes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease etc.
LDL cholesterol is deposited in the blood vessels. These deposits develop into plaques. The plaques partially disturb blood flow. This results in the development of atherosclerosis. It also leads to blood vessel damage and the development of other heart problems.
LDL cholesterol also increases the risks of coronary heart disease. Other risk factors of coronary heart disease include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity. And all these can be linked to the consumption of saturated fats. And also to the overconsumption of refined and super refined foods.
It’s important to note that saturated fats are not the only cardiovascular disease risk factor. Other unhealthy eating habits also contribute to cardiovascular health problems.
Recent evidence shows that eliminating dietary saturated fats cannot improve cardiovascular health alone. Because it’s not the only risk factor. Other risk factors also contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases.
So, dietary saturated fats must be replaced with dietary polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are healthy/good fats. Also, the diet has to be healthy. Which means, it has to be free from unhealthy foods. This helps improve cardiovascular health.
People make the mistake of eliminating high fat foods. And then they increase the intake of highly refined foods. These foods contribute to weight and fat gain. Both of which contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases. So eliminating dietary saturated fats alone cannot improve cardiovascular health.
Saturated fats may not be the only factor that affect cardiovascular health. However, they are still a cardiovascular disease risk factor.
These are the reasons why preferring fatty meat cuts is a very bad idea.
How to reduce meat-based dietary saturated fats
How do we get rid of meat-based dietary fats? This can be done in several ways.
- Replace fatty meat cuts with lean meat. Lean meat has a low saturated fat and cholesterol content. Therefore, it contributes less to dietary fat and cholesterol intake.
- Eat low-fat meat cuts. In poultry (chicken, turkey, dark) the breast has the lowest fat. It also has the highest protein content! The loin is the leanest meat portion in beef and pork. This portion has a low fat content.
- Reduce the intake of fatty meat. This includes chicken skin which has the highest fat content in poultry. And pork chops which have the highest in pork.
- Eat meat in moderation. In doing so, fatty meat cuts must be avoided. This reduces the dietary intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. And it lowers the risks of developing cardiovascular diseases.
- Trimming meat removes visible fat from fatty meat cuts. An alternative is buying fat trimmed meats. Fat trimmed meat has no visible fat. Therefore it contains less cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. This type of meat does not increase total blood cholesterol.
- Trimming reduces meat fat by 23.8 – 59%. This limits saturated fatty acid and cholesterol intake from fatty meat cuts.
- Several cooking methods reduce the amount of fat in meat. Only if no extra oil is added. These include boiling and grilling. Cooking reduces fat content from meat by 17.9-44.4%.
- Therefore, properly trimming followed by cooking meat reduces the risks associated with high meat fat intake.
- Eating dried meat like chimukuyu or biltong also reduce chances of consuming too much fat.
- Remove skins from poultry before cooking. This also limits the dietary saturated fat content.
Practising these diet adjustments may help eliminate unhealthy eating habits. And also help break the “fatty meat cuts are healthy” myths.
Most people have a preference for fatty meat cuts. It’s human nature that people prefer the sizzling and appetizing effects of fatty meat. This leads to a high intake of fatty meats. And overeating them is linked to many health problems. Unhealthy eating habits must be eliminated if diet-related non-communicable diseases are to be stopped.
Thank you for reading to the end. Please download the infographic on how to reduce dietary fat intake.