Guest dietitian from the Meat Advisory Panel, Dr Mabel Blades advises how much red meat should be included in a healthy, balanced diet:
“I quite often get asked how much red meat we should be eating and what the recommended weight actually looks like on the plate. To start with the guidelines, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends that adults should eat a balanced diet with up to 500g (cooked weight) of lean red meat a week or up to 70g per day.
“So, we have clear government guidelines but what does 70g of red meat actually look like on your dinner plate?
“When meat is cooked it loses about a third of its raw weight due mainly to losing water. If you dry fry 100g raw minced beef it will, after cooking, be approximately 70g in weight. This is always a useful guide when buying meat as you can ask the butcher for 100g per person of raw meat or look for packs in the supermarket of the appropriate size.”
Examples of approximately 70g portions of cooked meats and meat products include:
• One medium portion shepherd’s pie, lasagne, cottage pie, stir fry, chilli or any dish where you normally use lean minced meat
• One lamb chop
• Two slices of roast lamb, beef or pork
• A piece of rump or sirloin steak about the size of a pack of cards
• Three grilled lean rashers of bacon
• 2 large or 3 small grilled sausages
• Two standard beef burgers or one quarter pounder
• Three slices of ham
“So why should we be including lean red meat in our diets? Well, beef, pork and lamb contribute to the all-important balance that necessary for a healthy diet and this is backed by the Department of Health. It highlights that red meat is a good source of protein, and vitamins and minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc and B vitamins.
“It is also one of the main sources of vitamin B12, which is only found in foods of animal origin, such as meat and milk.”