White meat vs red meat: are they equal?

We can well imagine that, in front of your beef steak or your Milanese cutlet, you rarely ask yourself the question of what is the best meat from a nutritional point of view. Your only question, at that time, is whether it’s cooked. But if, one day, you are looking to know what is on your plate and understand the needs of your body, it is always good to know the specifics of white and red meats. Because yes, small spoiler: they do not have exactly the same nutrients, or at least not in the same proportions. Are we discovering all this together?

To be able to compare white meat and red meat, you still need to know what we are talking about. Let us agree: red meat means beef, horse, mutton, and lamb. By deduction, poultry, pork, veal, and rabbit are put in the white meat category. It’s not that we don’t like it, but the game, also called black meat, will not be in our comparison.

Fat: 1-0 for white meat

The point for this first category is given to white meat, which is much less fatty than red. To give you an idea, a beefsteak contains 17g of fat, a lamb necklace 13.7g, veal breast 11.2g, and turkey only 1.88g fat. Doubt is not allowed, the figures speak for themselves: red meat is fatty. The problem is that excess fat can have adverse health consequences. But be careful, there is no question of banning red meat on the pretext that it has a high level of lipids, because it also has positive points, starting with its omega 9 levels.

cắt bít tết thịt bò ngon ngọt - red meat hình ảnh sẵn có, bức ảnh & hình ảnh trả phí bản quyền một lần

Omega 9: 1-0 for red meat

Red meat contains a lot of omega 9, about 5g, whichwould contribute to the decrease of the risk of cardiovascular disease” by decreasing the level of bad cholesterol according to Vidal. This is a good reason not to remove red meat from our diet. Finally, we say that, but omega 9 is also found in hazelnut oil and olive oil.

Proteins: 1 everywhere

There, no very interesting fight since white meat and red meat both contain the same amount of protein, about 20%. Proteins, as a reminder, are essential for muscle development and regeneration.

thịt trong cửa hàng thực phẩm. người phụ nữ chọn thịt gà tươi đóng gói trong siêu thị - white meat hình ảnh sẵn có, bức ảnh & hình ảnh trả phí bản quyền một lần

Vitamins and minerals: ex-aequo


Zinc, beyond being your cousin if you are under 20 years old, is a trace element that does everything or almost. DNA synthesis, role in the immune system, bone formation, and participation in cognitive and reproductive functions… a damn nice CV for such a small element. Let’s not make the suspense last longer, it is the red meat that wins this duel hands down. Don’t believe us? Beef contains 4.2g of zinc and lamb 3.8g, compared to 2.2g for turkey and veal.


But nothing is played in this great fight since poultry and other white meats regain the advantage on the calcium side. Count 10 mg of calcium in 10Og of turkey, 8 mg for veal against 5.4 mg for a beefsteak.


No offense to Popeye, it is not lentils or spinach that contain the most iron but spirulina, black pudding, and soy. But that’s not the point, so back to our sheep. Or rather to our beef and veal who shoot each other in the paws to know who has the most iron.

The gold medal goes to red meat(2.2 mg in beef against 1.22 mg for calf breast). This is not surprising: animals that make endurance efforts(such as horses or oxen)have more myoglobin, a protein that transmits oxygen to the muscles. This protein, as you will have understood, contains iron. Veal or turkey, depending on their breeding conditions, make little effort and therefore need fewer myoglobins according to this Article from Sciences and Life. Fewer myoglobins = less iron. CQFD.

khái niệm ẩm thực thịt bò cổ điển pháp hầm estouffade de boeuf với không gian sao chép - beef steak hình ảnh sẵn có, bức ảnh & hình ảnh trả phí bản quyền một lần


Like the beta-carotene that we often talk about, selenium is also a formidable antioxidant. Its role in the body is among other things to fight against the oxidation of our cells because of stress. If it is good for our immune system, obviously we want to find the meat that provides us with our recommended daily intake, let’s see! In this regard, the RDA is 1 microgram per kilo. Let’s say you’re 70 pounds, your body needs 70 micrograms of selenium per day.

If you relied on meat to bring you your daily dose, choose especially according to your tastes because white and red meat has about the same rate (about 8 micrograms). If you like offal, rejoice: they contain incredible amounts, about 120 micrograms for beef or veal kidneys. It’s crazy, isn’t it?

Vitamin B12:

Like a Swiss Army knife, this vitamin is multifunctional: both useful in energy production, it also allows the synthesis of red blood cells and maintains the proper functioning of our immune system. Again, there is no glaring discrepancy. In our comparison, beef steak shows 1.85 micrograms against 1.77 for the lamb collar and 1.62 micrograms for turkey. Do you find that little? Tell yourself that the recommended daily dose is 2.4 micrograms per day.

flat-lay photography of cooked meat and sauce platter

The final score? Draw

Don’t expect to be told“Yup, red meat is better” or“Owl, white meat is the most interesting”. No, because there is no one meat better than another. Each provides interesting and essential nutrients in greater or lesser quantities depending on the piece chosen. True, red meat is fatter, but it also has more iron, zinc, and omega 9. The only golden rule is to have fun and be reasonable by varying your diet. That’s good, we have hundreds of recipes based on poultry, veal, pork, and rabbit, but also beef and mutton to give you recipe ideas.

All the figures quoted come from ANSES’s nutritional composition table and are given on 100g of raw product. The definitions of nutrients are taken from the health sheets of Le Figaro.

roasted meat served on ceramic plate

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