I know vegans won’t agree but we all love to eat meat! We all know the usual suspects: Chicken, Beef, Pork, and Fish but the unsung hero of the meat-eating world hails from an unlikely source: Goat. That’s right, that small horned animal that likes to chew on grass the whole day might actually possess what many would argue to be the healthiest meat on the planet.
We scoured articles and different kinds of references to justify this “health” claim and we came up with five of the best reasons why an avid meat eater should at least consider including goat meat in their everyday meals.
1. Leaner than most
If you think boneless chicken breasts are your best option for lean meat proteins, you’re on the right track. Look a little further down the health spectrum and you’ll find goat meat.
Not only is goat meat the leanest red meat on the market, it has fewer calories and cholesterol than chicken and turkey. Actually, the only meat leaner than goat is the mighty ostrich, weighing in at 2.8% fat. Here’s what the competition looks like in terms of fat: goat – 3%, turkey – 5%, chicken – 7.4%, beef – 18.8%, Nutella – 1,000,000%.
2. Clean meat
Goats get a bad rap for eating tin cans and hanging out near garbage receptacles, but this is an unfair stereotype. Here’s why: because goats are not factory farmed in the same manner as many cows, pigs, and chickens in Western countries, they are likely to have been raised without added growth hormones and antibiotics. In fact, just about all goat meat that reaches the food tables comes from small domestic and international farms.
3. Environmentally friendly
Okay, so we know goats won’t genetically modify your children, but what about their impact on our environment? This is a two-pronged issue. Unlike the grazing cow, which destroys root systems and eats up vitamin rich grass from the soil, goats are browsers. They eat brush and weeds, restoring pastures by eliminating competition for water and nutrients.
All this is wonderful, but before you put goat meat on a pearly white pedestal, let’s talk about those small goat farms located internationally. The majority of goat meat is imported to the US from Australia and China. So if you’re picking up a vacuum-packed goat flank from a local halal freezer there’s a decent chance it was flash frozen and shipped across one or more of the seven seas.
This means imported goat meat leaves a much larger transportation footprint than meats produced stateside. So if you’re going to buy goat, try to buy it from farms in your area (or at least your time zone). This could get a bit tricky if you live in the U.S. since the U.S. is known to be the largest importer of goat meat worldwide.
In fact, the U.S. once imported 15,752 metric tons of goat meat back in 2011! This was thought to be driven by the popularity of goat meat with the diverse ethnic groups that immigrate yearly to the U.S. and burgeoning culinary interest in authentic ethnic foods and lean red meats.
Despite the issue of importing, there are plenty of opportunities to find goat meat that has been raised on local farms. Remember, goat is a staple in the diet of many communities. It’s out there. Harness the power of Google, or stop into a nearby meat market for recommendations.
4. Heart healthy
Eating red and processed meat has been shown to have dire effects on your cardiovascular health. A 2016 study actually correlated high red and processed meat consumption with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.
Goat meat isn’t that bad, though. In fact, Goat meat can be good for your heart.
It doesn’t cause hypertension
- While there are persistent rumors that the consumption of goat meat dishes increases blood pressure, there is no scientific evidence to support this. One study conducted two experiments to clarify whether or not blood pressure increases in conjunction with the consumption of goat meat dishes.
- The results indicate prolonged consumption of goat meat does not cause increased blood pressure, rather the large amount of salt used in the preparation of goat meat dishes is responsible for the increase in blood pressure.
It can lower cholesterol
- In a 2014 study, control chevon (goat meat) and omega-3 fatty acid enriched chevon were obtained from goats fed a 50% oil palm frond diet and commercial goat concentrate for 100 days, respectively. Goats fed the 50% oil palm frond diet contained high amounts of α-linolenic acid (ALA) in their meat compared to goats fed the control diet.
- The chevon was then used to prepare two types of pellets (control or enriched chevon) that were then fed to twenty male rats for 12 weeks to evaluate their effects on plasma cholesterol levels, tissue fatty acids, and gene expression.
- Results showed a significant increase in a-linolenic acid (ALA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the muscle tissues and liver of the rats fed the enriched chevon compared with the control group. Plasma cholesterol also decreased in rats fed the enriched chevon compared to the control group.
5. Good for anemics
Eating goat meat on a daily basis has been linked to a reduced probability of acquiring anemia since it has triple the amount of iron compared to chicken.
One study surveyed the diets of women in Afghanistan, a country known to have large populations owning goat/sheep livestock. The study then correlated sheep/goat ownership to a reduced risk of anemia as these are the groups of people who are more likely to eat these types of meat.
Cooking goat can be more of a challenge due to its low fat content. Since it’s pretty lean, there really isn’t much fat to keep the meat moist. Cook goat meat slowly and at low temperatures to prevent it from drying it out which makes it tough. The best ways to cook goat are roasting or braising. Roasting can be done in the oven, in a smoker, or on the grill. Braising involves cooking it with added liquid such as water, wine or milk. Marinating will help retain moisture and tenderness as well.
If you want to try one recipe for goat meat, it would have to be Goat Curry. Pretty much anyone who loves goat meat recommends this as the beginner dish. Check out this Goat Curry recipe care of My Heart Beets.
Whether or not you should eat goat is up to you. Word to the wise: if cooked properly, goat is divine. “Think lamb, but with a tang of earthy darkness,” writes NY Times food critic Henry Alford. Since goat is one of the most consumed meat in the world, you can find it any cuisine – from tacos to curries. Let us know your experience when you ate goat meat for the first time in the comments section!
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