The Health Benefits of Eating Raw Meat for Humans

steak tartare
Steak tartar sits on a white plate in a restaurant. (Image: serranostock/iStock/Getty Images)

Raw foodism is an eating system that concentrates on eating only foods that are unprocessed and uncooked. Most raw foodists are vegetarians but some also consume animal products. Some raw foodists also eat meat. This is a controversial choice, as raw meat is a potential carrier of E. coli and other harmful bacteria. Pregnant women, children and those with a compromised immune system should not eat raw meat. Still, there might be some benefits to eating raw, but check with your doctor before doing so.

No Heterocyclic Amines

Cooking meat releases heterocyclic amines, or HCAs. These are chemical compounds that form when you cook meat directly over an open flame or in extreme heat, such as during smoking or grilling. According to the National Cancer Institute, HCAs cause cancer in animals, although no studies exist on whether the effect is the same in humans. Raw meats contain no HCAs so any potential cancer risk is gone.

Digestibility

Cooked meat is harder to digest than raw meat, according to a 2006 report in the “Molecular Nutrition & Food Research” journal. This is due in part to salt, oil and other items added to the meat during the cooking process. In the study, cooked meat lost 6 percent of its amino acid content after cooking. The hotter the cooking process, the harder the meat is to digest.

Better Meat

Most people who advocate raw meat eating also suggest eating grass-fed, organic meats. This is to avoid possible contamination with E. coli and other dangerous bacteria but also to get more vitamins and nutrients. Commercially grown cattle receive antibiotics and other chemicals you don’t want to eat, especially if you’re consuming the meat raw.

Enzymes

Cooking destroys some of the healthy enzymes present in food. Some of these enzymes are essential for biochemical reactions in the body. When you cook meat, you’re killing these enzymes, so the food is not as healthy and “alive” as it was before. According to a 2005 article in “The Independent,” these enzymes are a good source of energy for your body. As you cook the meat, you lose them.

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