Meat

Health Benefits of Sheep Meat

Sheep meat is less common on the Brazilian table than beef. However, as it is also a red meat, it contains many of the nutrients found in red meat, with some advantages: for example, it is less fatty and softer, and thus better digested.

And, like beef, it is also very versatile in gastronomy, allowing for different preparations – comparing the two, it has a more striking flavor.

So, in this text, we are going to talk about the benefits and properties of sheep meat for our body, when it can be harmful, such as seasoning sheep meat and passing recipes with sheep meat. Happy reading, and good appetite!

AREN’T SHEEP AND LAMB THE SAME THING?

First, you need to know how to differentiate lamb from ram and ewe. All these terms refer to the same animal at different ages. Let’s see:

  • Lamb : is the offspring up to seven months of age, both male and female. During breastfeeding, it is also called papaya. Its flesh is rosier, softer and less fat, creamy-white in color.
  • Lamb : would be the animal at puberty, while it is not yet able to reproduce between seven and fifteen months. The female is called a lamb. Its meat is redder, firm, and it is at this stage that it reaches its outstanding flavor, one of the elements responsible for the fame of sheep meat.
  • Sheep : the lamb is considered as such after the first birth.
  • Capão : this is the lamb that reached the age of reproduction, around fifteen months, but was still castrated as a lamb. It is used for wool production.
  • Aries : is the breeding male.

It is important to say that, as the animal ages, its meat will lose quality, becoming darker, tougher and more fatty, and the fat will turn yellow, due to the pigment of certain plants that it eats throughout its life – or that is , examining the color of meat and fat is the best way to know the age of the animal. The meat sold is usually from animals up to one year old.

Now let’s get the benefits of sheep meat!

NUTRITIONAL QUALITY OF SHEEP MEAT

PROTEIN

Meat is made up of proteins, which are the raw materials of our body’s bones, muscles and cartilage. Sheep meat contains 25% lean protein, which contains all the amino acids necessary for the growth and maintenance of the human body. It is especially suitable for athletes, especially bodybuilders, elderly people or those who have undergone surgery, that is, for those who need to develop or work on the muscular system.

A parenthesis: one of the priorities of the elderly should be good muscle mass training. As age advances, the body decreases its production, which makes them very fragile in a simple fall and, worse, makes it more difficult to restore these injured muscles. Therefore, they need a lot to ingest proteins.

VITAMINS

  • Iron : without it, the transport of oxygen from the blood to the cells practically does not exist, because it forms the red blood cells (red blood cells), which perform this function. As a result, the person is left with low energy, that is, very weak and fatigued – symptoms of anemia. Sheep meat contains heme iron, which helps the body absorb non-heme iron from plant foods.
  • B Complex Vitamins – B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantogenic acid), B6 ​​and B12: are responsible for the development and maintenance of nerve cells, helping to prevent diseases such as depression, Alzheimer’s and other dementias. B12 is only found naturally in animal foods.
  • Zinc : it is one of the minerals that works mainly for the development and maintenance of the human body as a whole – starting with the fetus, which is why it is so important for pregnant women. After birth, he continues to act in the growth of children and adolescents. It also synthesizes DNA and blood proteins, and aids in tissue healing.
  • Creatine : it is a great source of energy, which improves the mood and performance in physical exercises.
  • Antioxidants : glutathione, taurine, among others. By delaying the aging of the body, they postpone diseases caused by age (dementias, for example), and help in the renewal of the skin.

FATS

Research is demystifying the idea that sheep meat should be avoided because of the fat. First, they prove that this option has less fat than beef. And second, they show that these fats are not only beneficial, but necessary for the human body. Are they:

  • Omega 3 fatty acid: it is a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Mono and polyunsaturated fats : increase the level of HDL, the good cholesterol, which improves the functioning of the cardiovascular system.
  • Ruminant trans fats : don’t confuse with trans fat used in processed foods! This, being natural, is beneficial: the most important of them is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which increases muscle mass by producing good fats. This is one more reason that makes sheep meat suitable for the group mentioned above: bodybuilding athletes, the elderly and people in the post-surgical process.

POSSIBLE HARM TO SHEEP MEAT

Warning: like any other red meat, if consumed in large quantities very often, sheep meat can indeed be harmful. The ideal, as recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization), is to eat between 300 and 500g per week, which is equivalent to a small steak a day, and not to toast it too much, to the point of forming a black crust. Roasting, grilling or cooking is better than frying.

Excesses can cause:

  • increased risk of various types of cancer;
  • inflammations;
  • an increase in LDL, which is bad cholesterol, and as a consequence of the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Now that we’ve seen the properties of sheep meat, let’s look at the best part: how to season sheep meat and some recipe suggestions.

SHEEP MEAT RECIPES

We already know that sheep meat has a strong flavor, and this already imposes a condition: milder spices will be useless, as they will disappear naturally.

Even so, first of all, the ideal is to know if the meat you bought comes from lamb or lamb, as we’ve seen, they have different characteristics: lamb tends to be milder, while the strong flavor is so well known to connoisseurs, it is present in lamb meat. Anyway, this also depends on factors such as the type of animal rearing (confinement or released in the pasture), what was its diet and slaughter weight.

The presence of the flavor determines the amount of seasoning, as strong meat should be less seasoned, so that it is not overshadowed – which is why many fans of sheep meat prefer to consume it without any seasoning.

The most used are bay leaves, rosemary, juniper, mint and pepper, alone or as ingredients in a marinade, mixed with white or red wine, and even beer.

Next, a marinade recipe and another with sheep meat.

MARINATED SHEEP MEAT

Ingredients for 10 kg of meat:

  • 10 tablespoons of salt;
  • 7 bay leaves;
  • 1 liter of good quality dry white wine;
  • 2 medium sized garlic heads;
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper;
  • 400 ml of water (equivalent to two glasses);
  • 1 grated nutmeg;
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh or dehydrated rosemary.

Mix all ingredients in a blender. Place the meat in a container, cover with this mixture and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Then just prepare the meat, in the oven or on the barbecue.

If you like, use the marinade as a base for a sauce. Simply cook the mixture in a pan until reduced.

LAMB RAGU PASTEL

  • 1 packet or 1 pastry dough roll;
  • 600 grams of cubed lamb meat;
  • 4 finely chopped garlic cloves;
  • 1 onion finely chopped;
  • 500 ml of homemade beef broth;
  • 2 chopped skinless and seedless tomatoes;
  • 100 ml of red wine;
  • 1 egg white;
  • Salt to taste;
  • Black pepper ground to taste;
  • Green scent to taste;
  • Olive oil;
  • Frying oil.

Season the meat with salt, pepper and olive oil to taste. Add the minced garlic and mix well.

In a pan with a drizzle of oil, brown the onion. Add meat and fry until golden. Then add the tomatoes and saute for about 1 minute. Add the wine and broth over low heat, stir occasionally, and cook until the meat starts to fall apart.

Remove from heat, sprinkle the green scent to taste and let it cool. Once the ragu is cold, assemble the pastries.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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