If you’re a meat-eater, you’ve probably noticed that red juice the raw meat often sits in. You may have come home from the grocery store a few times to find that your meat looks like it’s covered in blood. Most of us automatically associate the red juice with blood, but what it actually is might surprise you.
Most of the blood from the raw meat is removed during processing. Any red juice that remains is usually contained within the muscle tissue. So what exactly is that red liquid you’re seeing?
The red liquid is actually a mixture of water and protein known as myoglobin. The purpose of myoglobin is to help ship oxygen to the muscle cells. Myoglobin has a deep pigment. The more myoglobin the meat contains, the darker or redder the meat will be. When you prepare meat such as poultry or fish, you won’t find any red juice in the package. This is because white meat contains very little myoglobin.
What Determines The Level Of Myoglobin In Meat?
The levels of myoglobin in meat dictate whether the meat will be red, dark, or white in color. The muscles in red meat are used for standing, walking and other activity. They’re made up of slow-twitch muscle fibers. White meat is made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers. Those muscles are used for quick bursts of activity only.
When myoglobin is exposed to air, it eventually turns brown. This can help indicate the freshness of your meat. Red meat is always more fresh than meat that’s already started to turn brown. In the United States, the US Food and Drug Administration allows the use of carbon monoxide as a preservative. It works by attaching to myoglobin’s iron atom. This turns the mat bright red and prevents it from interacting with oxygen.
So that bright red juice that come out of your steak is actually a mix of myoglobin and carbon dioxide. You’re being fooled into thinking your meat is fresher than it actually is.
Choosing Grass-Fed Meat
If you’re a meat-eater, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing the right kind of meat in terms of your health. If the animals weren’t grass-fed, then they were most likely fed grains and pumped with antibiotics. Antibiotics and grains alter the bacterial balance and composition in the animal’s gut and pose an extreme risk to your health.
Organic grass-fed meat is free of antibiotics. It also tends to be leaner, has higher levels of vitamins and minerals, and boasts a healthier ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. When consuming poultry, you should always stick with organic pasture-raised or free-range certified meat. When it comes to fish, make sure you’re consuming wild-caught, not farm-raised.
Where To Find Naturally Raised Meat
Most meat sold in grocery stores is likely from animals raised in confined feeding operations and pumped with antibiotics, unless labeled otherwise. When buying meat, shop at health food stores and be sure to check your labels. Another great way to make sure your meat is natural is to buy from local farmers and Farmer’s markets where you know the meat is organic and free of antibiotics.