Meat: Types, Facts, and a Little Bit of History

Olive Rios
August 25, 2020

 

Meat is ubiquitous with most of our diets — it’s something plenty of us can’t imagine our lives without. It’s no wonder either, seeing as the meat has been a part of our lives for hundreds of thousands of years.

Obviously, it’s a source of immense nutritional value; plenty of the nutrients that are essential for our bodies come from meat. With this in mind, we’ll share some interesting facts about meat, its most common types, and the origins of the overall human relationship with this type of food. Without any further ado, let’s dive right into the meat of it!

Pork

Although not as popular in the United States as it is in the rest of the world — pork is certainly one of the most often-consumed types of meat on the planet.

There is a degree of confusion when it comes to what type of meat pork actually is. However, its official classification is that it belongs to the red meats. It contains a sufficient level of myoglobin. That’s the specific protein that gives red meat its signature color.

As for the benefits of pork, they are numerous; for one, pork is an excellent source of vitamin B1. In fact, the amount of this vitamin found in pork is much bigger than in comparable red meats. And it’s an essential nutrient due to its role in our bodies’ processing of glucose.

On the other hand, pork is also a lot more affordable compared to other types of meat. It also has zinc and selenium — nutrients that make our immune system stronger.

The issue with pork is that it's prone to quick bacterial contamination; more so than comparable types of meat. Due to that, you need to cook pork more thoroughly than beef, for instance.

Beef

Beef is *the* red meat — it’s practically synonymous with its wider meat group.

We consume plenty of beef through all kinds of products — from huge steaks to hamburger meat.

The benefits of beef are the fact that it has a lot of vitamin B12, zinc, and iron; all of which are important for the diet of the average person.

On the other hand, there are some concerns with beef that encourage its moderate use. For example, consuming beef more extensively than is recommended will result in unhealthy excesses of iron. Over the long term, that can result in different cardiovascular diseases and cancers appearing.

Also, it’s important to cook beef just right. If you undercook beef, the risk of bacterial infections is well documented. However, going the other way too much is also not recommended. If you overcook beef, it’s even more certainly unhealthy; carcinogenic compounds tend to form in the process, which is why sensible meat cooking is the order of the day.

Chicken

Finally, we arrive at the third among the most popular types of meat available in most markets — chicken. We should note that, compared to pork and beef, this is an entirely different animal (all pun intended). Chicken meat is a part of the category of poultry.

In most cases, poultry meat is called “white meat” due to its signature color. Chicken is certainly the most popular among poultry meats, and all kinds of world cultures offer a variety of dishes based on chicken. From chicken soup and spicy Indian dishes to the signature fried chicken for which Kentucky is famous for; all of these are based on the same kind of meat.

The benefits of chicken are plentiful — starting from the fact that it is quite affordable and cheap, regardless of where you are. Plus, chicken is famously low-calorie, a fact utilized by many people that want to lose weight while still taking in all of the nutrients that they need from meat. Chicken has a very dense protein count, meaning that you can get your daily protein intake from a smaller amount of chicken. Apart from that, chicken also has plenty of gelatin.

History of Meat

Do you know what sets us apart from our primate cousins and ancestors? Among other things, perhaps most importantly — we have a much bigger brain. Compared to our ancient ancestor that science dubs the Australopithecus, we have a brain that’s whopping three times as large. Out of all the energy produced by our bodies, our brains use up one fifth.

To put things in perspective — most animals spend no more than 2% of their bodily energy on their brain functions, while we spend 20%. This is a distinction that happened over the course of human evolution — and many experts agree that this happened due to meat consumption.

In order for our brains to evolve to the size and complexity that it has today, we needed a far bigger energy intake compared to our animal cousins. The hominins that came before primarily found sustenance in seeds, plants, and fruit; thus, they had a much slower metabolism and digestion. The gut of ancient humans was much slower and longer, and it needed a lot more energy

And the fact that the humans of old spent all of that time and energy on digestion meant that their brains stayed small compared to the brains of the humans that began eating meat. Quite simply, small amounts of meat have huge amounts of protein and calories. When humans started consuming more meat than plants, their gut started shrinking. The energy that went into digestion was rerouted to brain development.

And when we evolved enough to cook all of the meat that we ate, the process of digestion became even more efficient. This process started roughly seven hundred thousand years ago, which is when we first see traces of cooking among ancient human communities. We hope that this guide was of use to you and that you’ve learned something new today. Make sure you are staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one, guys!

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER