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Vitamins, Nutrients & Minerals in Red Meat

Red meat, such as steaks, roast beef or ground beef, can make up part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation. Though red meat has developed an unhealthy reputation due to its saturated fat content and links to heart disease, the meat also contains a number of beneficial nutrients. To minimize the health risks of consuming red meat, choose the leanest cuts of beef possible, cut away excess fat before cooking and choose cooking methods that do not require added oil, such as grilling or broiling.

One type of macronutrient found in red meat is protein. Red meat contains muscle fibers, each of which contain thousands of proteins, so the meat itself provides a rich source of dietary protein. The protein from red meat also constitutes a complete protein--one that contains all of the amino acids that must be consumed as part of your diet, according to Georgia State University. By consuming sources of complete protein, such as red meat, you provide your body with the amino acids needed to build and maintain healthy tissue.

Red meat also contains iron, an essential mineral. Iron in your body proves essential for red blood cell functioning, as the iron found in proteins within these cells carries oxygen throughout your body. The iron found in red meat is termed heme iron, and it proves more easily used by your body that non-heme iron, the form of iron found in plants, according to Harvard University Health Services. Consuming sources of iron, such as red meat, protect against the health problems, such as anemia, that can develop from iron deficiency.

Another mineral found in red meat is zinc, another type of essential mineral. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, zinc from your diet aids in the activation of enzymes--the specialized proteins that carry out chemical reactions within your cells. Zinc also helps control cell death, a cellular process often disrupted in diseases such as cancer. Consume red meat, along with other sources of zinc, to protect against zinc deficiency.

One mineral found in red meat is riboflavin, or vitamin B-2. According to MedlinePlus, riboflavin breaks down carbohydrates from your diet into usable chemical energy for your cells, and it also contributes to red blood cell production. Deficiencies in riboflavin can cause mouth sores, anemia and skin disorders. Consuming rich sources of riboflavin, such as red meat, contribute to your daily vitamin intake to prevent riboflavin deficiency and its negative health effects.

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  • raw red meat image by Ferencz Teglas from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.