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Red Meat Moderation by Cheryl Koch, M.S., R.D.

On the East Coast, spring-like weather is luring us outdoors again. This weekend, we opened up the outdoor grill and cooked ourselves a barbecue.

What was the winning selection for our first grilling adventure? Steak, of course.

I realize that to some of you this may seem hypocritical. After all, red meat is bad for us and should be consumed in small quantities. Too much red meat and processed meats have been linked to heart disease and cancer.

There's no end to the articles and media reports reminding us to restrict these items. But, just like other research findings, this one needs to be put in perspective.

When eaten in moderation, red meat plays an important role in the diet. It can be a source of antioxidants such as glutathione or carnosine and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). The key to eating red meat as part of a balanced diet is to select lean cuts of meat such as round, chuck, sirloin, or loin.

In addition, "choice" or "select" grades of beef are better choices than "prime" because of their lower fat content. Look also for extra lean or lean ground beef, or beef with no more than 15 percent fat.

Finally, remember that the cooking method is as important as the meat source and cut. Broiling, grilling, roasting, and baking meats are the best ways to cut the amount of fat that makes it to the table.

What is moderation when it comes to meat consumption? The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish per day. One serving size of lean meat is 3 ounces, roughly the size of a deck of playing cards or the palm of a woman's hand.

Cheryl Koch, a registered dietitian and director of the food and clinical nutrition programs at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Posted on 21 Dec 2006 by coachgianni
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