Can we improve the nutritional quality of meat?

Type Review article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-618
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Volume76
Issue number4
Early online date25 Sep 2017
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2017
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Abstract

The nutritional value of meat is an increasingly important factor influencing consumer preferences for poultry, red meat and processed meat products. Intramuscular fat content and composition, in addition to high quality protein, trace minerals and vitamins are important determinants of nutritional value. Fat content of meat at retail has decreased substantially over the past 40 years through advances in animal genetics, nutrition and management and changes in processing techniques. Evidence of the association between diet and the incidence of human non-communicable diseases has driven an interest in developing production systems for lowering total SFA and trans fatty acid (TFA) content and enrichment of n-3 PUFA concentrations in meat and meat products. Typically, poultry and pork has a lower fat content, containing higher PUFA and lower TFA concentrations than lamb or beef. Animal genetics, nutrition and maturity, coupled with their rumen microbiome, are the main factors influencing tissue lipid content and relative proportions of SFA, MUFA and PUFA. Altering the fatty acid (FA) profile of lamb and beef is determined to a large extent by extensive plant and microbial lipolysis and subsequent microbial biohydrogenation of dietary lipid in the rumen, and one of the major reasons explaining the differences in lipid composition of meat from monogastrics and ruminants. Nutritional strategies can be used to align the fat content and FA composition of poultry, pork, lamb and beef with Public Health Guidelines for lowering the social and economic burden of chronic disease.