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Nutritional value of red meat

Red meat is one of the best sources of iron and zinc which is well absorbed by the body.
It is a source of omega-3 and a good source of B vitamins and protein.

Best source of iron and zinc

Red meat has the highest iron and zinc content of commonly consumed protein foods.

The redder the meat, the higher the haem iron content.

Well absorbed by the body

Iron and zinc in red meat is well absorbed by the body.


Haem iron, found only in meat and fish, is absorbed four times better by the body than non haem iron, found in plant foods.


  • Zinc absorption is reduced by phytates in plant foods such as legumes and wholegrains.
  • The ratio of phytate to zinc in the diet is an important predictor of zinc deficiency.
  • In fact, zinc deficiency was first reported in Egyptian boys with impaired growth and delayed sexual maturation where the diet was high in phytate. 2
  • Unfortunately, zinc status is difficult to measure and so there is little evidence to date on the prevalence and health consequences of zinc deficiency in the Australian community.

Source of omega-3
Three surprising facts about red meat and omega-3:

  • A 150g serve of uncooked red meat (average of beef, veal, lamb and mutton cuts) is a source of omega-3, providing 50mg of omega-31.
  • It contributes 22% to the amount of omega-3 (500mg) which is recommended for the prevention of chronic diseases3.
  • Because red meat is consumed 3 times a week in Australia, it is the second largest contributor of omega-3 in the Australian diet, after fish4.

Good source of B vitamins and protein

A 150g serve of uncooked red meat (average of beef, veal, lamb and mutton cuts) provides more than 50%3 of the recommended dietary requirements for key nutrients


  • 1 Food Standards Australia New Zealand, NUTTAB 2006http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumerinformation/nuttab2006/onlinever...
  • 2 Prasad AS, Miale A Jr, Farid Z, Sandstead HH, Schulert AR. (1963) Zinc metabolism in patients with the syndrome of iron deficiency anemia, hepatosplenomegaly, dwarfism, and hypognadism. J Lab Clin Med. 61:537-49
  • 3 NHMRC (2006), Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand including Recommended Dietary Intakes, Commonwealth of Australia.
  • 4 Howe P et al. “Dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: contribution of meat sources,” J Nutrition. 22 (2006)::47-53.

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