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The latest news about beef from XL-Foods in Alberta is scary and has lots of people looking for alternate food choices when they are planning their meals. Many of my clients are thinking of eliminating beef from their diets, others are planning to do so just until this problem gets corrected.
The question I keep hearing is "Is there a lot missing from my diet if I give up beef?"
Many people live very healthy lives without any beef in their diet. Vegetarians, for example, can successfully eliminate meat and make up for all the nutrients in other ways. Others give up beef but still eat chicken and fish or other animal products and keep their diets equally healthy.
IRON: Beef is a very good source of well absorbed iron but you can get similar iron from eggs, poultry (dark meat is better than white) and some fish such as oysters, clams, mussels and scallops. Non-meat sources of iron include lentils, beans, dried fruits, blackstrap molasses, spinach, .iron-enriched cereals, grains and pastas but the iron in these foods is not as well absorbed as the iron in beef. To enhance absorption, include a source of vitamin C along with the non-meat foods. Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, cabbage and other fruits and vegetables. Good combinations include enriched cereal with berries or juice, spinach salad with orange sections or pasta with tomato sauce and red peppers.
VITAMIN B12: This vitamin is found in all animal foods. Many soy, rice and almond beverages are now fortified with B12 so check the labels. You can get B12 from poultry, lamb, pork, fish, eggs, dairy and fortified beverages.
ZINC: This mineral, important for a strong immunity, is also found in oysters and other seafood, poultry, eggs, milk, yogurt, nuts, beans, lentils, whole grains, enriched cereals, nuts and seeds.
SELENIUM: The best sources of this important antioxidant are nuts, especially Brazil nuts, as well as seafood, fish, pork, bread, wheat bran, wheat germ, oats and brown rice.
PROTEIN: Generally, getting enough protein without beef is not difficult. The high quality protein found in red meat is also found in chicken, fish, eggs and dairy products. There are also vegetable sources of protein including beans, soy, nuts, seeds and grains. To make the vegetable protein complete, you must combine them with each other or with one of the animal sources. Examples include split pea soup and bread, hummus with pita, tofu and brown rice, granola with nuts or pasta with pine nuts and beans.
As for purchasing beef, be a smart consumer and ask your butcher where the beef is coming from. And, as always, remember to practice food safety in your kitchen.
For more information about this recall, look at Canadian Food Inspection Agency's website and go to the food recalls section.
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