Healthy or Not: Beef, Chicken, and Pork
As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I am frequently asked if eating meat is bad for you. My answer is always “it depends.” Many of us are now aware of the importance of buying animal products that are raised humanely and without antibiotics and hormones. This includes hormone/antibiotic free, organic, pasture raised, free range, and organic pasture raised products. Additionally, meat from pasture raised animals contain a healthier balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed equivalents. Though no matter how they are labeled, pork, beef, and chicken are great sources of highly bio-available protein as well as zinc, iron, and several of the B vitamins.
Great! So, you bring home a nice sirloin steak and you throw it on the grill. You hear it sizzling, see the meat turning a pleasing brown color, and smell that delicious seared meat aroma. This is where that healthy (and expensive) piece of organic pasture raised meat turns bad.
Grilled meats and meats prepared by other high-temperature dry cooking methods such as roasting and pan frying create toxic compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). AGEs are basically cellular debris that can build up in your body and cause oxidative damage to tissues and organs. They have been implicated in many chronic diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
How then, do you prepare a healthy meat-containing meal? For lower AGE content, use low-heat moist cooking methods such as poaching, stewing and sautéing. However, if you are really craving that grilled piece of meat, marinade it in either a citrus or vinegar containing solution for at least 2 hours prior to cooking. The acid inhibits AGE formation during the cooking process.
The table below shows a comparison between different cooking methods for meats and the resulting AGE content. Note that any food cooked, at high temperatures, such as potatoes, can also create substantial amounts of AGEs. Also be aware that even though raw meat has the lowest AGEs, you should always consume it cooked. Make sure to follow the guidelines for safe cooking temperatures.
Food Item AGE content per 90 gram serving (kU/serving)
Beef, raw 636
Beef roast 5464
Beef steak, grilled 4 minutes 6674
Beef steak, pan fried 8570
Beef, stewed 2391
Beef, ground, boiled and marinated
10 min in lemon juice 1384
Beef, ground, pan browned,
marinated 10 min in lemon juice 3450
Beef, ground, pan fried 4435
Chicken, boneless breast, raw 692
Chicken, boneless breast, poached 7 min 991
Chicken breast, roasted 45 min with skin 5975
Chicken breast, breaded, deep fried, 20 min 8750
Bacon, fried 5 min 11905
Bacon, microwaved, 2 slices, 3 min 1173
French Fries 1522
Boiled Potato 17
It is recommended that you limit your intake of AGEs to less than 15,000 kU/day.
The board certified Integrative and Functions Nutritionist at Food Centered Solutions are specially trained to provide you with a personalized dietary and nutrient plan to help you address all factors, including AGEs, that could be influencing your health and preventing you from reaching your goals. Our focus is to help you achieve long-lasting results.
Call us today for your free 15-minute consultation.
Food Centered Solutions, LLC
Frances Siver, MS, RDN, LDN, CLT, IFNCP Board Certified in Integrative and Functional Nutrition
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Uribarri J, Woodruff S, Goodman S. et al., Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010; 110:911-916.
Ottum MS, Mistry AM. Advanced glycation end-product: modifiable environmental factors profoundly mediate insulin resistance. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2015; 57:1-12.