Red meat contains a number of essential nutrients, including protein, vitamin E, the B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and small amounts of selenium and beta carotene. The way you cook red meat can affect the nutrient composition of the meat; some cooking methods cause higher nutrient losses than others.
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Nutrients at Risk
Protein and mineral content is relatively stable in red meat, regardless of how you cook it. Vitamins, however, are often affected by cooking methods. Water-soluble vitamins, such as the B vitamins, tend to be the most affected by cooking methods, but fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin E, can sometimes be affected.
Causes of Nutrient Loss
Water-soluble vitamins can drop due to high temperatures, long cooking times, cooking in an alkaline solution or cooking in water. Fat-soluble vitamins can leach out of your red meat if you cook the meat in large amounts of fat. Choosing cooking methods that minimize these conditions will result in meat with the most nutrients.
Best Cooking Method
One of the best cooking methods for red meat if you want to minimize vitamin losses is stir frying, according to the European Food Information Council. Stir frying uses only small amounts of oil and liquid and involves short cooking times, although sometimes the temperatures used are a bit high.
If you choose meat from grass-fed animals, your meat will start off with more nutrients, since this type of red meat contains more vitamins and minerals and less saturated fat than meat from conventionally raised animals. If you cook red meat in oil or water, use this oil or water in a sauce or soup so you don't lose out on as many nutrients. Although longer cooking times and higher temperatures can result in fewer nutrients, don't use lower heat or shorter times than recommended because improperly cooked meat can cause food-borne illnesses.