How to enjoy the health benefits of adding lamb to your diet

Lamb comes from a sheep that is under a year old, and often as young as five to seven months. Special varieties include baby or hothouse lamb, which is only six to 10 weeks old, and the meat of lambs raised in salt marshes, which has an unmistakably briny tang. Mutton, on the other hand, comes from sheep older than one year, and it has a more robust taste. Here are some benefits of adding lamb to your dinner table  and some tips on how to prepare and portion it.

How to enjoy the health benefits of adding lamb to your diet

Facts about lamb meat and consumption

  • Lamb is a high-quality, nutritious meat that is rich in easily-absorbed minerals and B vitamins, particularly B12.
  • Lamb comes in a variety of cuts including legs, shoulder, roast, chops, ground, foreshank and spareribs.
  • Lamb is the primary meat in parts of Europe, North Africa the Middle East, and India. However, it has never enjoyed the same pop­ularity in North America.
  • In the year 2000 for example, per capita consumption of lamb was only 500 grams (just over one pound), while the average North American consumes more than 22.7 kilograms (50 pounds) of beef a year.

Rich in nutrition

Among red meats, lamb stands out for its high nutritional value.

  • Although some cuts are high in fat, lamb is not marbled like beef. Since much of its fat is on the outside of the meat, lamb can be easily trimmed before cooking.
  • Lamb meat is tender because it is the relatively little-used muscle of young animals.
  • An 85 gram (three ounce) portion of roasted lean lamb contains approximately 200 calories, with about 22 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of fat.
  • Lamb is a rich source of protein and B-complex vitamins, as well as iron, phosphorus, calcium and potassium.
  • Because it is easily digestible and almost never associated with food allergies, lamb is a good protein food for people of all ages.
  • Lamb is also a source of ­conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a group of fatty acids that occur naturally in meat and milk products from ruminant animals.
  • Animal ­studies have found that CLA improved cholesterol profiles, delayed the development of ­ath­erosclerosis and may have anticarcinogenic properties.
  • Although it is premature to draw definitive conclusions about the protective benefits of CLAs, there is growing interest and research in this area.

Benefits

  • An excellent source of protein and B-complex vitamins.
  • A rich source of minerals, including iron and phosphorus.

Drawback

  • Some cuts are high in fat.

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