Although both beans and red meats are excellent sources of protein, they are vastly different. Beans are a vegetable that naturally has high protein and red meats are derived from some type of animal, typically livestock.
Everyone knows the traditional American breakfast consisting of eggs and bacon, then maybe a ham sandwich or coldcut sub for lunch, followed by a medium-rare steak and potatoes or hamburger for dinner… Most people in the United States consume some type of meat during the majority, if not all, of their meals. Red meat refers to meat from mammals with a high concentration of myoglobin (a single-chain, high-iron protein).
Red meat is a great source of complete protein and iron, but it also contains a high percentage of saturated fats, possible antibiotics and steroids, sodium, and other things our body could do without. Numerous studies have linked high rate of consumption of red meat to many different types of cancer (from breast and prostate cancer to stomach cancer, lymphoma, and others), cardiovascular disease, bone loss and arthritis, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions.
If you do consume high amounts of red meats, try to make it as lean as possible to lower the saturated fat content you consume. According to Wikipedia, eating “cooked red meat may increase the likelihood of cancer because carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines are created during the cooking process,” however, meat contains harmful bacteria when eaten uncooked or undercooked. Red meats may also contribute to high cholesterol. It’s best to try to cut back on your meat consumption for greater health benefits. You don’t have to go vegetarian, but you certainly don’t need to eat meat at every meal.
Many people have heard that red meat and low-carbohydrate diets can help shed pounds very quickly, but “replacing white bread and other highly processed carbs with steak and butter is not the way to go,” according to Dr. Linda E. Kelemen. She also gives the following information: “High-protein and fatty foods are staples of Atkins-style diets that shun carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta. Though these diets have been shown to spur weight loss and dips in blood cholesterol in the short term, many experts worry that if people stick with such a menu over time, it could spell trouble for the blood vessels and heart… More healthful choices…would be vegetable protein sources, such as beans, nuts, tofu and peanut butter.”
On the other hand, beans are almost a miracle food. They are very versatile not only in the varieties they’re available (to name a few: black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and peas, for example), but they are also great in a number of dishes spanning across many types of cuisine. Refried beans are plentiful in Latin dishes such as enchilatas and burritos; kidney beans and other types are popular in American chili; many soups in many countries contain beans; and the list goes on. Beans can be seasoned to take on a number of different types of flavors, from smoky to bland to spicy… Beans can be found in appetizers, dips, side dishes, as well as entrees or main courses.
Beans contain a bountiful supply of vitamins and antioxidants which have been linked to lowering risk of many types of cancers. The high fiber in beans helps lower bad cholesterol, helps fight heart disease, and helps the blood sugar stay level rather than spike, making it a great choice for those with diabetes or hypoglycemia. Also, beans create a sense of fullness because of their high fiber content and low glycemic index. Even more, the fiber helps regulate bowels and digestion functions.
Beans contain a comparable amount of protein and iron to that of red meats. According to WHFoods.com, most types of beans qualified as “a good source of manganese, protein, magnesium, thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus and iron. In the case of protein, for example, a one cup serving of cooked black beans provided about one third of a day’s protein requirement.” Another great thing about beans is that they are pretty cheap at the grocery store, especially when bought dry and uncooked.
Red meats and beans have a ton of similarities: they both provide high amounts of protein, iron, and other vitamins and are foods thoroughly enjoyed by many people throughout the world. These two foods are also very different. While red meats are high in saturated fats, cholesterol, possibly additives such as antibiotics, hormones, steroids, and other dangerous compounds, beans are natural vegetables that are cheap, full of heart-healthy fiber and vitamins, and very versatile. Next time you think about having a steak, you might want to consider your health before taking that first bite!