I’ve been told it many times, “One of these days you’re going to push your luck too far.” It’s because I stress to waiters I want my steak ‘blue’.
The worst that can happen is it arrives rare. But what is the risk of a blue steak? And can well done steak be bad for the heart?
No waiter has ever said to me, “You dummy, didn’t you learn in medical school that ordering a steak rare may cause toxoplasmosis? Go back and read about parasitology.”
Toxoplasmosis is not a common household term such as measles. But if the parasite is contacted, it can cause enlarged glands in the neck, fatigue, fever, and an enlarged spleen.
In rare instances it affects eyes, and the nervous system.
The good news is that about 40% of North Americans have had this infection at one time and survived it. But most are unaware of its presence and it usually requires no treatment.
Today, I often hear people say, “I don’t eat meat anymore.” But does that make sense? After all, humans have been eating meat since cavemen discovered it was a good way to survive. Now, eons later, there are many valid reasons for eating meat.
For one thing, I’ve never enjoyed spinach. I’d have to ingest three cups of raw spinach to obtain the same amount of iron contained in a six ounce steak. So this is an easy choice for me.
Meat is also the complete protein. This means it contains the nine essential amino acids that are required for maintaining body tissues and a healthy immune system. These essential amino acids cannot be produced by our bodies.
Today, iron is the nutrient most often lacking in North American diets. The recommended daily allowance for iron is 18 milligrams (mg). However, the typical diet contains only 6 mg. Low stores of iron can result in fatigue.
Making steak a part of the diet overcomes another nutritional pitfall. Meat is one of the prime sources of iron and is also rich in ‘heme’ iron. This is the type more easily absorbed by the body than ‘non-heme’ iron.
Steak also contains Vitamins B-6, B-12, five of the B-complex vitamins along with niacin, zinc and phosphorus. It’s rare that people ever think about zinc in steak. But many do not consume sufficient zinc, required for reproduction, growth, night vision and the manufacture of hormones.
Those who are concerned about calories should know that a six ounce steak trimmed of fat, contains just 6.0 grams of fat and provides only 366 calories. Compare this amount to roasted chicken with skin that has 23 grams of fat. And if you enjoy peanut butter, four tablespoons of it contain 32 grams of fat.
Some people who have developed ‘cholesterolphobia’ say this is why they just eat chicken and fish. But a six ounce steak contains 146 mg of cholesterol, the same amount in roasted skinless chicken.
But can a rare steak help the heart? In 1957 Dr. Frederick Crane was the first researcher to isolate coenzyme Q10 (Co-Q10) from beef heart. It’s amazing that it escaped everyone’s attention that meat is one of the major sources of Co-Q10. But if you like your steak well done, it not only tastes like leather, but also destroys Co-Q10.
There is more bad news about the destruction of Co-Q10. Today millions of North Americans, one in four over the age of 45, are taking cholesterol-lowering (CLDs) drugs.
This medication acts on an enzyme in the liver to decrease the production of cholesterol, but it also reduces the amount of Co-Q10, the energy of the heart. Since many patients taking CLDs are not taking Co-Q10 supplements, some researchers worry there may be an increase of heart failure in the future. Good sense indicates you cannot rob the heart of its energy year after year without expecting trouble.
“So, waiter, I’ll still have my steak blue. Please tell the chef to spare the heat. And to increase my good cholesterol, don’t forget a glass of cabernet sauvignon.”
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