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From Farm to Label - The Health Benefits of Meat

Health benefits of meat

There is no doubt that protein is an essential component to any eating pattern. Most often, the protein in our diet comes from animal sources including meat, poultry, and seafood and some plant sources such as soy, nuts and beans. For most individuals including a variety of these protein sources is not only encouraged, but healthy! The recommended dietary allowance for most adults is 5 to 6.5 ounces of protein and there is no reason why meat can’t be a primary component of one’s daily protein intake.

Animal proteins are ‘complete’

Protein is made up of components called amino acids which either come from dietary sources (essential amino acids) or are synthesized (nonessential). There are nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make and must come from dietary sources. Animal proteins are considered ‘complete’ proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids, while plant based proteins do not. These essential amino acids that come from animal sources are important for multiple functions including the immune system, digestive system and muscle development. For those that choose not to eat animal products, steps must be taken to ensure that multiple foods are chosen to meet the need for essential amino acids.

However, not all meat is created equally

Collectively meat can get a bad reputation when in reality, processed meats such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat and meat prepared with added fats through frying or breading are those that should be limited due to the higher saturated fat. Increased intake of saturated fat can be linked to heart disease, so instead opt for heart healthy options such as lean cuts of beef, pork, chicken and turkey, especially those processed without additional sodium.

Article written by Nicole Yon, R.D. photos provided by


USDA - Choose My Plate: All about the Protein Foods Group Krause's Food & the Nutrition Care Process. 13th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier/Saunders, 2012.

Nicole Yon is a Registered Dietitian and farmer’s wife helping to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. Follow along at, or on Instagram @fromfarmtolabel.

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