Iron is needed for healthy blood, giving us energy and for brain development in babies. Iron is found in a number of foods, including red meat. In general, the redder the meat, the higher the iron content.
Iron is found in two forms: haem and non haem. Haem iron is absorbed more easily by the body and is found in beef, lamb, liver, kidney, pork, poultry and seafood. Only about 5% of non-haem iron is absorbed and is found in vegetables, bread, breakfast cereals, beans, eggs and fruit.
Red meat can help to increase absorption, boosting the use of non-haem iron by up to four times. Vitamin C has a similar effect. Eating a combination of foods high in both haem and non-haem iron will ensure an iron-rich diet.
Zinc is a component of every living cell in the body. It is essential for the structure and function of over 50 enzymes. It is important for growth, sperm production, night vision, appetite, sense of taste and smell, maintaining a strong immune system and for wound healing. Zinc is widely distributed in foods, but the amounts available for absorption vary.
Protein is needed to build, repair and maintain body tissues, organs and cells in all parts of the body. Proteins are complex molecules and are made up of different combinations of smaller units called amino acids.
Our body can make some of the amino acids needed to manufacture protein and other necessary substances, but certain amino acids must come from the food we eat each day. These are known as the essential amino acids and are required throughout our life.
Plant proteins, on the other hand, do not have the correct balance of amino acids for human needs, so are considered low quality protein.
B group vitamins regulate many chemical reactions necessary to maintain health. Some help release energy in the body, some help to maintain good vision and health skin, some are important for optimal brain function, while others are needed for the manufacture of red blood cells.
• On average, beef and lamb provide almost a quarter of New Zealanders’ vitamin B12 intake.
• Vitamin D is involved with calcium in the body to give us strong bones. The main source of vitamin D comes from the sun, where it is synthesised in the skin, but due to limited exposure to ultraviolet rays outside, vitamin D becomes an essential nutrient that must come from our diet.
• Traditionally, food sources have included dairy products and oily fish, but beef and lamb could also provide an important amount. Red meat is now known to contain a more potent type of vitamin D, making it an effective source.
• Vitamin A is needed for growth, to keep skin and respiratory (breathing) tracts healthy, for vision (helping eyes to adjust to dim light) and to fight infection.
• The energy value of food is measured as kilojoules or calories.
• One kilojoule (kJ) = 4.2 calories (cal). The energy value of meat depends mainly on the amount of fat it contains and on the cooking method used for example, frying with added oil will have a higher energy content.
To find out how beef and lamb compare with other foods see table below.
Energy value per 100g Food Kilojoules Calories
Salami 2060 492
Reference: The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 6th edition, 2003, ISBN 0-478-10833-8.
• Fat is a concentrated source of energy, a preferred source by the body over sugar and is very satiating per gram this means you can eat less but still feel satisfied.
• In comparison, a gram of protein provides 17kJ (4 calories) and a gram of carbohydrate provides 16kJ (4 calories)
• Foods high in fat are high energy or energy dense.
It is important to remember we need to eat dietary fat as it provides essential fatty acids and is required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as other fat-soluble nutrients such as lycopene in tomatoes.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
• Polyunsaturated fat is made up of two main families: omega 6 and omega 3. Omega 3 is known to help people with heart problems and is important for brain function.
Reference: New Zealand Food: New Zealand People, 1999. Key results of the 1997 National Nutrition Survey.
• Beef and lamb are nutrient dense foods. They provide good quality protein, the vital minerals iron and zinc, and the B group vitamins: B12, B1, B2, B3 and B6. They also contribute to the intake of selenium and vitamin D in our diets.
Information supplied by the New Zealand Beef and Lamb Bureau.
"Just wanted to let you know that you folks have allowed my husband and I to send my Daughter and Son-in-Law the perfect gifts. We live in the US and they live in Auckland! It's very difficult, being so far away, to know what they might need and sending things they want can be as expensive to mail as to acquire! But everyone looks forward to having such wonderful high quality meats your company provides! Thank you so much for your terrific quality products and outstanding service!"