Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Schlageck: Moderation and variety

September 11, 2012

The key to a healthy diet today is to eat a variety of foods, including grains, milk, vegetables, meat and fruits — all in moderation. Each of us needs to make smart choices about when we eat and how much.

Another key ingredient in personal health is exercise. Something as simple as a 20-minute walk several times each week will go a long way toward personal health.

In spite of this widespread consensus to eat in moderation and variety, there are plenty of detractors who are trying to limit the amount of protein, especially red meat, from the everyday diet. Most of these opponents preach eating less or no beef.

Dietary guidelines are supposed to tell us what we should eat for good nutrition. Such recommendations are as plentiful as the half-truths or flat-out falsehoods we’re bombarded with daily during this presidential election.

Numerous organizations have been issuing their own guidelines about what they would have us eat based on their agendas. Oftentimes these guidelines are too dogmatic, containing specific recommendations for everyone while overlooking allowances for individual differences.

An example is the recent Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that places a ceiling on the amount of proteins and overall calorie content of school lunches.

The United States is made up of individuals who need to adjust their diets to allow for their own states of health, age, development, risks of chronic disease and personal tastes. And when it comes to choosing meats as a source of protein, the key is to choose lean cuts and trim the fat from the meat before or after cooking.

Beef, chicken, fish, lamb, pork and poultry should be roasted, baked, broiled, grilled or simmered. No matter how you cut it – all lean meats are high in nutritional quality. They’re good for the body as well as the mind. Beef, pork, chicken, fish and lamb have been recognized as healthy sources of top-quality protein. They also contain thiamin, pantothenic acid, niacin and vitamins B-6 and B-12.

Red meats also are excellent sources of iron, copper, zinc and manganese – minerals not easily obtained in sufficient amounts in diets without meats. Well-trimmed, lean meats contain approximately 4 to 9 percent fat when uncooked.

Meats of all kinds, whether fat or lean, are low in cholesterol, approximately 70 to 90 milligrams per serving. This amount is too small to have a significant effect on blood or serum cholesterol of most of the population. This includes those with normal blood cholesterol levels and who are not genetically likely to respond abnormally to dietary cholesterol.

Confusion about cholesterol arises when physicians or nutritionists speak of a cholesterol-lowering diet. They are referring to a diet that lowers blood cholesterol, not specifically to a low-cholesterol diet.

Lean meats in moderation as part of a varied diet are not now and are not expected to become a cause of heart disease or cancer. Beef steak, pork roast, grilled chicken and lamb chops are healthy and can be parts of our daily diets.

When it comes to eating, the truth is, nothing compares to the smell, sound and taste of a steak sizzling over an open fire.

— John Schlageck is a commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. He was born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas.


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