The nutritional value of meat and cured meats
To get the same protein quality of the amino acids contained in 70 grams of meat, a small slice that provides less than 80 kcal, you should consume 2 portions of pasta and beans, with an intake of more than 700 kcal. Here’s why the nutritional value of meat and cured meats is so high.
The positive nutritional value of meat and cured meats can be summarised in two fundamental aspects: on the one hand the presence of proteins (with complete composition in essential amino acids), on the other, the high concentration of trace elements always considered essential for the growth and development of mankind. Many of the micronutrients supplied by meat are involved in the regulation of energy in the metabolism processes.
A further very important feature is the simultaneous presence of many of these micronutrients, a factor that can be of great importance: vitamin A (present in large quantities in entrails) and riboflavin are, for example, both necessary for the mobilisation of iron and haemoglobin synthesis to the point that the only administration of iron supplements cannot deal successfully with anaemia if these other nutrients are deficient. Protein-energy malnutrition, iron deficiency anaemia and vitamin A deficiency can be avoided if sufficient quantities of meat are consumed.
Many of these nutrients can of course also be found in foods of plant origin, even if in some cases they have a lower bioavailability, i.e. a reduced capacity of absorption by the human body and utilisation by the cells. When comparing the merits and defects of the vegetarian diet and the consumption of meat, it is evident that only the presence of both in the nutrition of an individual can effectively contribute to a healthy and well balanced diet. To obtain, for example, the proper amount of essential amino acids from an exclusively vegetable diet, one is more than likely to introduce at the same time an excessive amount of other nutrients with respect to the needs of your body.
The combination of cereals and legumes is often referred to as an adequate substitute for meat because of its protein content, because the deficiencies of essential amino acids of cereals is covered by those of legumes and vice versa. But to get the same protein quality of the amino acids contained in 70 grams of meat, a small slice that provides less than 80 kcal, you should consume 2 portions of pasta and beans, with an intake of more than 700 kcal.
Obviously not all types and cuts of meat have the same characteristics. Muscle portions are richer in essential amino acids (a higher biological value and more digestible) than the connective tissues; the amount of fat (especially saturated) varies from species to species.
The Sustainable Meat Project