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Fitness & Health

02nd May 2019

Vegan diets miss out on essential nutrients that red meat provides, scientist says

According to a top neurobiologist, red meat contains a number of essential nutrients that are a missing from a vegan diet

Alex Roberts

Plant-based products are often viewed under a ‘health halo’, but this isn’t always accurate according to one top scientist

According to Robert Pickard, Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Cardiff, red meat contains a number of essential nutrients that are a missing from a vegan diet.

Pickard also says that vegan food substitutes are not necessarily better for you – despite how commonplace they’ve become.

“Many believe that plant-based products are superior, simply because they are ‘plant-based’. However, many vegan products are becoming increasingly processed.”

Plant-based foods may miss out on essential micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and nutrients).

“The issue is that meat-free alternatives, such as ‘bleeding veggie burgers’, ‘crispy nuggets’, ‘mac ‘n’ vegan cheese’, have to go through extensive chemical processes so that they can mimic the taste and texture of the real thing.

“This can leave some alternative products lacking in the health and nutritional benefits that are found in meat and dairy. Many still believe that replacing meat and dairy with processed alternatives will benefit their health.”

Red meat actually contains a number of essential nutrients that vegan foods are deficient in.

“For example, high-quality beef is a source of vitamin B12, essential for DNA production and body repairs. However, this is not found in a corn or chickpea burger. Similarly, a sweetcorn burger is deficient in lysine and without lysine our protein production can be stalled significantly.”

Although fatty and processed cuts of red meat have been associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer, leaner variants pack a nutrient-rich punch, Pickard states.

“Lean red meat has a large range of nutrients, including: vitamin D, iron, iodine, high quality protein, zinc, long-chain omega-3s and vitamin B12.”

Following a balanced diet, including lean red meat such as beef, can help increase your sex drive, boost brain power and fight flu and tiredness.

According to Professor Pickard, six of the best health benefits of red meat include:

1. Stronger bones

“Lean red meat is a source of phosphorus, protein and zinc. These are important nutrients for maintaining strong and healthy bones – making it a great food to help you master the treadmill.”

2. Muscle power

“Building muscle is not all about strength training – the magnesium, potassium and protein found in lean red meat makes a great workout addition which supports the growth and maintenance of muscle tissue.”

3. Brain booster

“As well as picking up the latest brain teaser or puzzle, lean red meats are great for supporting mental functions, as they contain vitamins and minerals such as niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, and zinc.”

4. Tiredness buster

“Lean red meat includes essential vitamins such as riboflavin and pantothenic acid. These work to decrease tiredness and fatigue, helping you to ditch the dull morning blues.”

5. Flu fighter

“If the return to commuting has left you fighting the flu, including lean red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, will deliver Vitamin B6, B12 and zinc, all of which can help to maintain a healthy immune system.”

6. Spice up your sex life

“People don’t associate sex drive with what we eat but, actually, lean red meat is a source of zinc, which helps to normalise testosterone levels in the blood and promotes fertility.”

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