When it comes to red meat, don't overlook one of the most common, yet most nutrient-packed choices—lamb. With an impressive profile of nutritional value, it may be one of the healthiest red meats available, and more families should consider adding this versatile component to their weekly meals. The health benefits of eating lamb meat, backed by science, may just surprise you and have you rethinking new and exciting recipes to try featuring this scrumptious meat.
What is Lamb?
If you've never tried it, lamb refers to the meat of a sheep in its first year. Lamb is a red meat as it is high in myoglobin content that is an iron-rich protein found in the muscle of animals. It contains heme, which is a pigment that gives the meat its rich red color. All meat and poultry contain myoglobin, but it is beef and lamb that provide much higher concentrations and thus why they are classified as red meats.
Is Mutton Lamb?
Mutton and lamb both come from a sheep. The difference is the age of the meat. Lamb meat comes from a sheep that's between 6 months to 1 year old, while mutton is a meat that comes from sheep that is over a year old. While that seems confusing to use two names for meat that come from the same animal, keep in mind there are key differences between the two types of meat.
Lamb is much more tender and by chefs and family cook accounts alike, more flavorful. As a sheep grows and ages, the flavor deteriorates, and the meat becomes tougher. Mutton is chewier without much tenderness, as the large quantities of grass sheep eat imparts more fat and a stronger, gamey flavor. Though when it does come down to taste, some do prefer the texture and taste of mutton.
Lamb Nutrition Facts
3 ounces of lamb meat contains roughly:
- 160 Calories
- 6 grams of Fat
- 25 grams of protein
- Vitamin B 12
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic Acid
This is a meat that is jam-packed with many beneficial nutrients.
Potential for Heart Health
Lamb is a common dish consumed in Mediterranean diets which have been shown to help lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. The fact that lamb is always grass-fed allows this meat to become a major source for omega-3 fats, which if eaten in an adequate amount in a healthy diet has been associated with a decreased risk of inflammation and possibly lower risk of heart diseases as well as the fact the ration of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is far greater in grass-fed lamb than in the average U.S. diet.
In some cases, during research on CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), it was found that increased intake of this nutrient also helped reduce inflammation and reduce body fat in a few.
On average, 40% of the fat found in grass-fed lamb comes from oleic acid which is monounsaturated fat. This type of fat is often found in pure, extra-virgin olive oil and is also associated with reducing the risk of heart disease. Add in selenium and zinc found in grass-fed lambs and these minerals become a protective factor against oxidative stress as they are a part of an important antioxidant enzyme system.
The Most Important Health Benefits of Eating Lamb
As a red meat, the lamb will have more iron than other protein sources such as chicken or seafood. Additionally, it contains heme iron rather than non-heme iron that is found in plants. Heme iron is easier for our bodies to absorb, so consuming lamb can help improve and may even prevent iron deficiency and anemia symptoms.
Vitamin B Powerhouse
It's estimated that somewhere between 1.5 up to 15% of American people are deficient in vitamin B12. A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition back in 2000 indicated that this number could be even higher, almost up to 39% of Americans possibly suffering from a B12 deficiency. Lamb is an amazing source of B12. Just 3 ounces will provide almost half of your daily B12 requirements.
Lamb is filled with immune-boosting zinc. A 3-ounce serving of lamb contains 4.4 mg zinc which equates to 30% of your daily need. Zinc is essential to assist your body in keeping optimal immune health as well as healing wounds, DNA and protein synthesis, and the growth and development of children.
As Americans, we eat only a fraction of the amount of lamb consumed compared to many other countries in the entire world, which is a shame as we are missing out on an extremely healthy, mouth-watering dish that is known to have an extremely tender, buttery, rich taste.
If you have never tried lamb and have always wished to try something different for your weekly meals as well as add something healthier than the usual beef or chicken, then Wholey is here for you! Whether you're looking to try shoulder chops, loin, or a boneless leg of lamb, we can deliver this succulent, nutrient-rich meat right to your door. With the freshest options online today, you can prepare any meal knowing that our expertise in only delivering the top-quality meats and ingredients to make meal prepping easier for you anytime you need us. We're here to make diversifying your diet a complete delight with new and exciting flavors and foods you might not have tried before.