Choosing Your Halal Meats Wisely

Meat is an important part of our diet, but buying meat can also be tricky. It’s not enough to go to a butcher shop and ask for any piece of meat. There are things that have to be taken into consideration.

Throughout this article, we will discuss meat, its importance, benefits, and how to choose it properly.

Importance of meat

Meat is used all over the world, and it is included in diets of many different cultures. Most of those cultures have national dishes that revolve around certain meat and its preparation.

Meat is important because:

  • It is rich in proteins – meat supplies our body with the important amino-acids that improve our overall health.
  • Meat has minerals – meat is rich with minerals which support the proper functionality of our cells and tissues. Meat is a good source of iron, zinc and other minerals. For example:
  1. Iron carries oxygen throughout our tissues
  2. Zinc improves the immune system, enzyme activity and the rapid healing of wounds
  3. Phosphorus strengthens bones
  4. Sulfur is part of the amino acid group
  5. Chromium is good for metabolizing dietary sugars.
  • It is a Good source of Vitamin B – there are a lot of B vitamins in meat, like riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, biotin, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins help extract energy from meat. Furthermore, Vitamin B-6 is good for the nervous and circulatory systems, and is also a part of protein synthesis and metabolism. Vitamin B-6 is needed for the absorption of Vitamin B-12 which is also needed for the proper function of the circulatory and nervous system. Unlike other vitamins, B-12 can’t be found in plants, and meat is the optimal source of this much-needed vitamin for  good health.
  • Meat is rich with healthy fats.

 Health benefits of meat

Just because vegetarians avoid meat, it doesn’t mean it’s not healthy. Meat, especially if it’s not processed, can be healthy and it should definitely be included in our diet.

Some of the Health benefits of meat are:

  • Great source of energy
  • Anti-oxidants that protect against the degenerative processes
  • Unprocessed meat doesn’t increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have shown that there is no connection between unprocessed meat and diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
  • Increases muscle mass
  • Increases bone density
  • Doesn’t decrease testosterone level
  • DOESN’T increase the risk of cancer – according to several studies, there is a link between red meat and cancer. However, those studies were wrong. Unprocessed meat does not cause cancer and it doesn’t increase the risk of getting it. The only thing that can possibly lead to cancer is the improper preparation of the meat, not meat itself. Therefore, instead of frying, choose other cooking options.
  • Vegetarians may claim otherwise, but there really are no proven health benefits of avoiding meat.

 Unprocessed vs. processed meat

Processed meat is the type of meat which is produced by methods that include smoking, salting, curing, and adding supplements or preservatives. Some examples of processed foods are: pastrami, salami, hot dogs, and sausage.

Even though these meats are from veal or beef, they can be harmful due to their method of preparation.

Processed meat is not good for our health, and its effects can be:

  • Weight gain – processed meat is full of calories, fat, and salt. These ingredients lead to weight gain, and later to obesity.
  • Heart disease – the risk of heart-related disorders occurs due to our body’s inability to process large amounts of sodium and fats.
  • Diabetes – processed meat contains nitrates and nitrites which decrease the secretion of insulin and negatively affect the level of glucose.
  • Cancer – people who eat processed meat have an increased chance of contracting stomach cancer.

Beef, lamb and other meats which are unprocessed are safer to consume. Unlike processed meats, they weren’t prepared by smoking, salting and other methods which can be harmful to our health.

Many studies have shown that there are no health complications related to the unprocessed meat.

Choosing meat

Choosing meat isn’t such a simple task. In order to get the best quality meat and to get a lot of its nutritive value, you need to take a few things into consideration. The quality of the meat is usually determined through the meat’s composition and other factors.

The factors that impact meat’s quality are listed below:

  • Visual identification of the meat – refers to color, marbling and its water holding capacity. Marbling is defined as a small set of streaks across the meat cut. It is important for its flavor and juiciness. Meat should be of normal color, and lamb and beef should have marbling across the meat.
  • Smell – meat should have a normal smell. It usually varies from the type of the meat, but if the meat has a rancid-like smell, or if you notice anything strange about the smell it means the quality of the meat is low and you should avoid it.
  • Firmness – quality meat should be firm (not tough), and not soft. Meat that is too soft also doesn’t have a massive quality, and it is harder to prepare it.
  • Juiciness – refers to the level of water that is retained in a cooked meat. Juiciness depends on marbling and fat around the edges that hold in the water.
  • Tenderness – depends on animal’s age, sex, and muscles, and the way the animal was slaughtered.
  • Flavor – is determined by the type of meat and cooking method.
  • Meat is better from grass-fed animals – it is healthier to eat meat from animals that were fed in the “traditional” way. Animals are often fed with supplements and additives that are meant to increase their muscles and produce more meat. However, that is not the natural way and that meat has a lower quality than traditional grass-fed animals.
  • Pay attention to where you buy – along with the quality of meat itself, you have to pay attention to the place where you buy the meat. Make sure the place is clean, and  it is always better to go to a local butcher shop and buy  meat than to go to big supermarkets. The reason is, meat may be fresh and have higher quality in smaller shop, than the meat from the big supermarket chains.
  • Halal over non-halal – halal meat has the highest level of quality. The animal is killed in the most humane way, and the blood is drained.
  • Avoid meats that contain a lot of additives – if you are buying your meat in a supermarket, check the declaration on the meat, or ask someone for the advice. Make sure the meat has no additives that would prolong their shelf life.
  • Quality veal should have no marbling.
  • Seek a butcher’s advice – if you are buying meat in a smaller butcher shop, ask the butcher about the meat, its quality and how to recognize good meat from bad meat.

Conclusion

Buying meat can be trickier than one would imagine, however, once you get used to buying meat of a certain quality, it will become easy. Meat is an important part of our diet and has a lot of health benefits. Unprocessed meat is always better than processed meat and has no health risks (while processed meats have many of them). Also, pay attention to how the animal was killed and make sure there are no any additives that would lower the meat’s quality and harm your health