Tue. Mar 31st, 2020

Meat as Functional Food

4 min read
Meat and meat products are essential parts of the diet which concentrate and supply a large number of nutrients . Meat has traditionally been highly appreciated as a food of great nutritional value, and meat consumption has always been associated with good health and prosperity.

Meat and Nutrition

Meat and meat products are essential parts of the diet which concentrate and supply a large number of nutrients (protein, fat, vitamins and minerals). Meat is a fundamental source of proteins of high biological value.

It is a well-balanced source of amino acids that satisfies human physiological requirements. Meat is a good source of iron, zinc and phosphorus, with significant amounts of other essential trace elements such as selenium, magnesium and cobalt, and an excellent source of B group vitamins like B1, B2, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

Meat has traditionally been highly appreciated as a food of great nutritional value, and meat consumption has always been associated with good health and prosperity.  However, over the last few years the situation has changed, among other reasons because of the epidemiological associations discovered between meat and meat derivatives or some of their constituents, and the risk of some of the major diseases in our society (Coronary Heart Disease, cancer, high blood pressure and obesity).


Meat Products as Functional Foods

Meat and meat products are essential in the diet.  Their principal components, besides water, are proteins and fats, with a substantial contribution of vitamins and minerals of a high degree of bioavailability.  Both meat and its associated products can be modified by adding ingredients considered beneficial for health or by eliminating or reducing components that are considered harmful.  In this way, a series of foods can be obtained which, without altering their base, are considered healthy.

  1. Addition of spice extract with raw chicken meat highly effective against microbial growth.
  2. Addition of freezed dryer pineapple by product and canola oil act as fat replacers giving healthier and stable meat product.
  3. Dry fermented chicken sausage produced with inulin and corn oil will decrease the fat content and increase the protein content in sausage, therefore effects is hardness & chewiness is increased.
  4. Nutritional contribution by combination of olive-oil, rice bran oil with meat products.
  5. The use of LAB as bio-protective cultures to extend the shelf life of fresh meat can improve microbial stability and safety in commercial meat preservation.
  6. Increased levels of kimchi powder in breakfast sausage decreased the pH and springiness and the increased the hardness, chewiness and gumminess.
  7. Nutritionists encourage improving the diet by combining meat products with fish or other sea related foods, in order to equilibrate the omega-6/omega-3 ratio strong benefitial health effects of a balanced omega-6/omega-3 PUFA diets.
  8. Irradiation is useful for manufacturing ready to eat cooked meat products enriched with folic acids, the effects of this treatment on folic acid content, color, texture and sensory properties of final products.




Modifications in Meat processing

Numerous studies have sought to demonstrate the possibility of changing the image of meat and meat products as functional foods. Like other food-related sectors, the meat industry is in a permanent state of change in response to continuous technological innovations and changes in consumer demands, among which those relating to improvement of certain health-related aspects through the diet are becoming increasingly important.  This situation is prompting the emergence of new, “healthier” meat products, prominent among them functional foods, which are the main driving force behind the development of new food products, including meat-based products.

Functional meat derivatives present an excellent opportunity to diversify and take up positions in a tremendously important emerging market.  There are various strategies for introducing qualitative and/or quantitative modifications in meat and meat derivatives in order to achieve a “functional” product, and of these, strategies associated with meat processing are especially promising.


The principal advantage of meat derivatives in terms of modifying composition is the opportunity that they offer to change the ingredients (meat and non-meat) used to produce them and hence work with various endogenous and exogenous bioactive compounds.

The basic idea is to be able to limit the concentration of compounds with adverse physiological effects and enhance the concentration of other, beneficial ones.  Most physiologically active substances come from plants, and when combined with other foods such as meat derivatives they can help endow a food with functional effects.

The idea of using plant products in the meat industry is not a new one; various types of ingredients have been used for their technological, sensory, economic and nutritional effects. Because of their importance, lipids are among the bioactive components that have received most attention, particularly (in quantitative and qualitative terms) with respect to the development of potential meat-based functional foods.



In that respect, the special characteristics of walnuts offer promising perspectives for the development of functional meat products.  As one of the most important commonly-consumed foods, meat offers excellent ways to promote intake of functional ingredients without any radical changes in eating habits.


Advantages of meat & meat Products as functional food

  1. Meat contains many important nutrients, including bioactive compounds such as taurine, L-carnitine, creatine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and endogenous antioxidants
  2. The unique endogenous antioxidants including carosine, anserine and others, along with iron and zinc, nutrients often lacking in the average diet.
  3. Meat also contains a significant source of vitamin B-12.
  4. Meat and meat products may be made more functional with some modifications during meat processing.
  5. Adding probiotics to fermented meat products (i.e. sausage) may lead to health benefits, although this application is still marginal.


  1. Fermented meats are not generally considered ‘health food’ by consumers. Also, technical issues exist. It requires careful selection of probiotic strains since, for example, they would need to have a resistance to bile salts.
  2. Fiber-enriched meat products can elicit a grainy texture and have a restrictive digestive tolerance.
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