FOUR HEALTHY MEATS
If you want to lose weight and live a greener—and longer—life, the first step you should take is eliminating meat, right? Yes…and no. It’s true that excessive consumption of red meat has been linked to higher rates of premature death, heart problems, and certain forms of cancer. And raising any form of livestock in the polluting, antibiotic- and hormone-driven factory farms so favored by big agribusinesses leads to unnecessary water and air pollution, and may be driving the problem of antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans.
But that doesn’t mean you should chuck it all and go veg for the rest of your life. Meat, particularly red meat, is rich in muscle-building amino acids, and the fatty acids found in all forms of meat help build your brain, which is 60 percent fat. It’s all about finding the healthiest meats for both you and the planet. These six healthy alternatives are better for your body than the mass-produced, factory-farmed fare that is high not just in antibiotics and hormones, but also omega-6 fatty acids (thanks to the animals’ steady diet of corn and soy), which have been linked to Parkinson’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline.
Powerhouse nutrient: Vitamin E. Levels of this antioxidant, which wards off free radical damage linked to aging and keeps your immune system healthy, are three times higher in grass-fed beef than in conventional grain-fed beef.
More healthy bonuses: In addition to being slightly higher in protein, grass-fed beef is leaner. It contains half as much total fat as grain-fed beef and two-thirds less saturated fat than conventional grain-fed beef
Powerhouse nutrient: Omega-3 fatty acids. There are 1,125 milligrams in 3 ounces of canned salmon and 1,362 milligrams in a can of sardines.
More healthy bonuses: It isn’t easy to find sustainably harvested fish that isn’t overloaded with industrial contaminants, like mercury and PCBs—and that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. That’s why canned fish is such an attractive option. Canned omega-3-rich salmon almost always comes from wild Alaskan salmon, some of the cleanest, most well-managed fish on the planet. Likewise, sardines are über-healthy and, because they’re at the bottom of the food chain, haven’t lived long enough to build up unhealthy toxic materials.
Powerhouse nutrient: Protein. Chicken contains some of the highest levels of protein of any meat. Protein protects against obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and it can dull hunger and prevent you from overeating.
More healthy bonuses: Organic chicken is less likely than the conventionally raised stuff to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to Consumer Reports. Conventionally raised, factory-farmed chicken has also tested positive for low levels of arsenic, a carcinogen added to chicken feed to speed growth, as well as caffeine, antidepressants, and painkillers, all fed to chickens to keep them alert so they eat more and grow faster.
Powerhouse nutrient: Selenium. In addition to being a great protein source, a 3-ounce serving of turkey gives you nearly a day’s worth of selenium, a mineral that boosts your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Researchers have also found evidence that selenium binds with the toxic heavy metals mercury and arsenic, making them less harmful to your body, and it activates substances that protect against cataracts and muscle damage to the heart.
More healthy bonuses: As with chicken, studies have shown that organic turkeys are less likely to harbor drug-resistant bacteria than conventional factory-farmed birds, which are routinely fed antibiotics to ward off the diseases that breed in cramped farms. According to the most recent USDA agricultural census, the average turkey farm in the United States houses around 6,200 birds.