America’s Love Affair with Red Meat
A Red Meat Alternative
Red meat has been the mainstay of the American diet for many generations with steak and potatoes being the working man’s meal of choice. Many Americans consume red meat at every lunch and evening meals with hamburgers and steaks being the most popular red meat entrees. Even the Atkin’s Diet is focused around the protein rich properties of red meat.
The Atkins diet uses an initial combination of fats and proteins along with a very small amount of carbohydrates, most of which must come in the form of salad greens and other vegetables, to dramatically raise the body's metabolism rate. Once this level is obtained, nutritious carbohydrates can be slowly reintroduced into the diet. The dieter must be careful to avoid empty carbohydrates, i.e., processed white sugar, processed white flour and ALL products containing these substances. The Atkins diet uses fats and protein as way to prevent hunger. Hunger is one of the primary reasons for diet failure. (For more information on the Atkins diet go to www.atkins.com )
As Americans search for red meat alternatives, emu meat, a very nutritious, low fat, red meat deserves a second look. The emu is a flightless bird similar to the ostrich. It's meat is a dark red meat that is very mild flavored, much like beef. Research has proven that emu meat is low in fat while being high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
A two year study beginning in 1998 at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW-M) has proven emu meat to be a nutritious alternative to beef. Emu meat is lowest in fat and highest in protein and other nutrients – when compared with bison, venison, elk and ostrich. Additional comparisons found emu meat lower in fat than chicken, turkey, pork and beef.
Chief investigators for the study included Dennis Buege, Mark Kreul and Larry Borchert of the Muscle Biology and Meat Science Laboratory, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin – Madison. Also referenced in this study was nutrient determination on emu meat conducted by Leslie Thompson and co-workers at Texas Tech University during the mid – 1990’s.
The American Heart Association has included emu meat in its listing of heart-healthy meats and Barry Sears, internationally-known author of ‘The Zone’, has also included emu meat in his diet recommendations.
The study’s chief investigator, Dennis Buege, reported that all alternative red meats tested were very low in fat content, which translates to reduced caloric content. And he also pointed out that cooking intact cuts of meat causes primary moisture loss, concentrating all other nutrients present.
“All fresh meats have very low sodium level in comparison to salt-added processed meats,” he continued. “And selenium is an element which is getting quite a bit of attention so we included it in our analysis, finding that emu, ostrich and bison had selenium levels higher than beef. Emu also contains some of the B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, B-6 and B-12) at levels higher than beef.”
Emu Meat Ranks High in Healthy Eating
From a health standpoint, large amounts of saturated fatty acids in the diet tend to elevate serum cholesterol in some individuals, and elevated cholesterol levels are risk factors in coronary artery disease. The UW-M study compared the types of fatty acids in alternative red meat species versus other meats and poultry and found emu meat (25%) and ostrich meat (30%) are lower in percentage of saturated fatty acids and are on par with chicken (28%) or turkey (26%). (Fatty acid results are not yet available for bison or elk.)
Emu meat, which has been included on training tables for athletes and body builders, may now come into its own as an entrée of choice for the American consumer. “Within the American Emu Association (AEA), we are seeing a higher demand for emu meat from hotel and restaurant chefs featuring emu meat on their menus more now than at any other time in the history of our industry,” said Neil Williams, AEA president.
Costs of emu meat, including ground and steaks, are comparable to the better grades of beef on today’s market.
“Because most emus are free range, grain-fed livestock, their feed contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products,” Williams pointed out, “and emu meat is processed according to state or USDA agricultural regulations.”
Emu meat may be ordered from individual producers or can be found in specialty food stores and health food stores around the country. For additional information about emu meat and where it can be found, contact the American Emu Association at 541-332-0675, website: www.aea-emu.org