According to recent research from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), meat, eggs, and milk are important sources of nutrients such as proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates that are difficult to get in plant-based meals.
The extensive analysis, which was based on data from over 500 scientific articles and 240 policy documents, also said that these nutrients are important during crucial life phases such as pregnancy and breastfeeding, childhood, adolescence, and old age.
“Human nutrient requirements vary greatly throughout their lives.” While there are a number of dietary patterns that might satisfy those demands, nutrient-rich foods are an important aspect of a balanced diet.” Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo and Chief Economist Máximo Torero Cullen wrote in a foreword to the report.
“Terrestrial animal source foods provide energy as well as many essential nutrients, such as protein, fatty acids, and several vitamins and minerals that are less common in other food types.”
The advantages of eating foods derived from animals
Among the essential elements found in animal sources are:
- High-quality protein is required for muscle mass growth.
Essential fatty acids aid cognition, neurodevelopment, and anti-inflammatory processes.
- Iron, which protects against iron-deficient anaemia
- Calcium, which helps to bone health
- Zinc, which is essential for growth, development, and immunity.
- Selenium is an anti-inflammatory mineral that promotes genome-level activities.
- Vitamin B12 is essential for neurodevelopment and cell creation.
- Choline is important for development, brain function, and gene connections.
- Carnitine, creatine, and taurine are examples of bioactive compounds that promote good health.
But not all meats are made equal. According to the study, even little amounts of processed red meat, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs and deli meats, can raise the risk of death and chronic disease outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.
Consuming modest amounts of unprocessed red meat, such as beef, hog, and lamb (between 9 and 71 grammes per day), poses a low risk but is usually regarded as safe in terms of chronic disease outcomes.
Furthermore, “the evidence of any links between milk, eggs, and poultry consumption in healthy adults and diseases such as coronary heart disease, strokes, and hypertension is inconclusive (for milk) or non-significant (for eggs and poultry).”
The overall image
Food from animals is considered part of a healthy diet and can help achieve FAO’s Sustainable Development Goals, such as reducing childhood wasting, low birth weight, anaemia in women of reproductive age, and obesity and noncommunicable diseases in adults.
Semedo and Cullen also noted in the paper that the livestock industry “must contribute to addressing a range of challenges,” such as environmental issues, herd management, animal health issues, human-livestock issues, and social issues.