Since our first ancestors walked this earth some 2.5 million years ago, red meat has played a part in our diets. There are different accounts of how humans came to eat meat and archeological findings have unearthed stone tools believed to have been used to cut and access the meat of large animals. We know that the digestive system of early man got smaller indicating a move from a vegetarian to onre that included meat. Because it is more quickly broken down and released as energy into the body, a samller digestive tract is needed. History also indicated that in recent centuries, meat was consumed by wealthier people only, while the commoners or of working class lived on a diet of vegetables and potatoes. But as humans evolved the benefits of red meat soon made it an essential and valuable part of everyones diet.
Dried meat has been with us for millennia and because it is so tasty it is likely to stay. South African Biltong has its roots in both European culinary traditions and the traditions of the native cultures of South Africa. Pre-refrigeration there was only so much you could do to store meat and dry curing was one of the simplest solutions. Red meat is an essential part of the human diet, and it’s an incredibly efficient source of a number of important proteins, amino-acids and vitamins.
Beef is one of the best known types of red meat and it contains numerous nutritional benefits which are detailed below:
• The protein in beef is of the high quality type. It contains all of the essential amino-acids that are required by the human body. The protein in beef is also highly digestible at around 94%. While essential proteins can be found in non-meat sources such as beans and wheat, the protein in these is less ‘efficient’ being only around 78% and 85% respectively.
• Beef and other red meats are also a great source of iron and zinc. Iron is used by our bodies to produce haemoglobin which helps to carry oxygen through our bloodstream. This provides us with energy and is one of the key benefits of eating red meats. The zinc in red meat helps our immune systems, helping us to stay healthy and combat bugs and germs.
• The majority of essential B-group vitamins can also be found in red meat, all of which are essential to overall health.
• Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in red meat. Beef is second only to fish as a source of these. Again, they are essential for our immune systems and help to maintain a healthy heart.