DRS. OZ AND ROIZEN

Red-meat cities: Meet your meat alternatives


Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 1, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.

Hey, New Orleans, hold the short ribs! Kansas City, cancel that T-bone! St. Louis, send back the sirloin. These beef-loving towns earned berths on Sharecare.com's newly released list of Top Red-Meat-Eating Cities for 2013. Men and women share their meaty enthusiasm in the Big Easy, but in Kansas City and Memphis, Tenn., women chow down more — and it may age them by accelerating wrinkling. In St. Louis and Columbus, Ohio, men are the supercarnivores and may lose potency — red meat promotes impotence!

How much meat are they downing? The biggest red-meat eaters have four (women) to six (men) servings a day — five to eight pounds a week! Red meat (beef, as well as pork and other red types) is a big source of saturated fat, which can raise levels of heart-threatening LDL cholesterol, reduce your body's ability to process blood glucose and increase your risk for diabetes, colon cancer and an earlier death. And new reports say that it contributes to a buildup in the blood of a substance called TMAO that triggers bodywide inflammation and promotes heart disease — all good reasons to opt for omega-3-rich salmon or ocean trout and skinless poultry. While Dr. Mike recommends that you eliminate red meat from your diet completely, if that's not gonna happen, aim for no more than one 3-ounce serving a week.

In fact, you're in luck. Just in time for grilling season, we're here to help everyone in Meat-Loving Land discover mouthwatering summer flavors that avoid (the best choice) or reduce (better than nothing) red meat's health dangers.

Look for grass-fed meat. It has more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed types, along with other healthy nutrients that help prevent and control heart disease, cancer risk, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and more. Choose lean cuts like eye round and bottom round; serve them sliced thin. And remember: One serving is 3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards.

Skip processed and cured types. Sodium and nitrite preservatives in bacon, lunchmeats, ham and sausage raise blood pressure, interfere with healthy blood sugar and make arteries less flexible.

Toss something juicy on the grill. Go for skinless, fat-trimmed chicken or turkey. Or grill fish (grilled salmon is one of Dr. Mike's favorites). But don't overchar — and always marinate your meat or fish in a nonfat marinade before introducing it to a flame. That cuts down on the carcinogenic chemicals that form when meat is browned. Heterocyclic amines (HCA) form when heat causes a reaction between protein and creatine in muscle meats; fat dripping onto flame sends polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) back up in the smoke to coat the food (they're linked to aging of your stomach).

Make a little meat go a long way. Instead of grilling steaks, how about kebabs? You'll use half to a quarter of the meat when you tuck onion chunks, mushrooms, colorful pepper slices (red, yellow, green), cherry tomatoes and zucchini rounds in between pieces of meat. Or grill up lean, grass-fed cuts and serve with other add-ins for make-your-own fajitas. We flip for whole-grain tortillas, guacamole, beans and grilled veggies. Who needs the meat, really?

Opt for meat substitutes. Soy crumbles, available in the refrigerator case at the supermarket, give chili, sloppy joes and spaghetti sauce the same meaty texture, minus the meat. Crumbles soak up flavor from whatever you cook them in, and that lets your culinary creativity shine through.

Find your favorite un-beef burger. Use ground turkey (white meat, without skin) or salmon burgers in place of ground beef. Or try out the many varieties of veggie burgers to see which one pleases you and your family. Some look, taste and have the texture of a beef burger. Others deliver Tex-Mex or even Indian spice medleys. Still others let their veggie flag fly — with visible grains and beans in each patty. Top yours with all the fixin's (lettuce, tomato, whole-grain bun, a dollop of ketchup and mustard) to tickle your taste buds.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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