Corned beef is a huge staple food for St Patrick’s Day that is celebrated in America and most of Europe. This tasty treat is a trendy item, but of course, there can be concerns about whether corned beef is good for you or not.
So, is corned beef healthy? We’ll answer that here.
In addition, we will also look at what corned beef is and what goes into making it.
So, let’s dive in!
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Origins of Corned Beef
Despite the name, corned beef does not contain corn. Corn refers to the rock salt used to preserve beef during old times. This was done to make sure the meat stayed fresh, and the addition of corn salt ended up giving this particular beef some additional flavor.
However, as time went on and new, there were better preservatives in use, and using corn salt as a preservative wasn’t as popular. So, it ended up just being used due to the taste and became a staple food to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.
You can usually find canned corned beef in local supermarket chains. It is ground-processed, which means that the fresh meat is finely chopped into small bits. Usually, ground beef is harder to preserve, so measures such as corn rock salt are used. Keep the freshness in mind if you’re buying this type of beef.
How is Corned Beef Made?
Aside from the preservative, corned beef is made much in the same way as regular beef. The only differing factors usually are the oil and the spices used to cook it. The prominent flavor of the beef comes from coriander, peppercorn, and bay leaf. This beef is usually made to be tender.
The foremost step in preparing corned beef is usually the brining process. Brining makes the meat juicy and allows it not to get overcooked. It involves dipping the piece (usually a brisket) into a salt solution and leaving it for some time. This is also the step where the corn salt is added into the mixture where the beef then absorbs it.
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Nutritional Content of Corned Beef
We’ve talked about what corned beef is and how it’s made. Now let’s look at the nutritional values of this particular type of beef. We’ll be considering a 3-ounce portion of corned beef for these:
Let’s start by looking at one of the essential nutritional components of meat. Corned beef is red meat, and as a result, it is a very high source of protein. A serving contains 15g of protein which makes a great deal of the daily recommended intake of protein.
Athletes and people who tend to work out a lot will benefit from high protein diets. Corned beef is a very popular breakfast or lunch item with people eating corned beef sandwiches. The protein in it helps with muscle and body growth. It also gives you a good deal of energy.
If you had a primary diet of poultry meat, you would increase protein intake by switching to red meat. However, there isn’t much difference in protein intake compared to other red meat options, so you’ll usually eat corned beef if you like the taste.
The sugar content in corned beef is shallow, and as a result, it is a very lacking source of carbohydrates. While in some ways this is healthy, a high intake of bad carbohydrates can result in high blood glucose levels and inflammation.
These are all very dangerous for diabetic patients, and the lack of carbohydrates in corned beef is appreciated.
However, carbohydrates are still an essential component of diets as they give you a good deal of energy and keep you strong. So, if you’re planning on eating corned beef, make sure to consider the lack of carbohydrate intake and consider eating fruits or whole grains to make up for it.
One of the points against how healthy corned beef can be is the fat content. Most corned beef is made from brisket, which has one of the highest fat content out of any piece of meat from a cow. Further, the problem is that about one-third of it is harmful saturated fat.
Compared to poultry meat, red meat tends to be unhealthier due to the higher presence of saturated fats. Poultry meat also tends to have good cholesterol, while red meat lacks that. As a result, eating corned beef can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of a heart attack.
Even if you enjoy corned beef, it is essential to control the amount you’re eating. Eating it on occasions like St Patrick’s day is fine. If you happen to be a prior heart patient, it is recommended to avoid corned beef as it can be dangerous for your health.
With 827 mg of sodium in a serving, it suffices to say that corned beef has a very high sodium content. This can be quite an unhealthy amount as while the body needs sodium, it does raise blood pressure and can lead to strokes. Once again, if you’re a prior heart patient or have hypertension, do not eat corned beef as it is very harmful.
High amounts of sodium are another reason you should not overeat corned beef or red meat in general. While sodium does help regulate blood pressure and fluid levels in your body, there are often better sources of sodium that also don’t come with high saturated fat content.
Corned beef contains mostly Vitamin B in particular, a large source of Vitamin B12. This helps with red blood cells in your body and makes sure the oxygen transportation remains appropriately functioning. It also plays a strong role in ensuring that your brain continues to function correctly.
However, it doesn’t have other vitamins in as high content. So often, it is cooked in a dish with other vitamin supplements to ensure a more balanced meal.
In terms of minerals, this red meat is not lacking. Corned beef does help make your body strong by possessing a good deal of iron (1.86g in a serving) and zinc (about 2 g). These two minerals are essential in keeping your body in shape as they facilitate oxygen transfer and regulate your nervous system’s health.
Aside from these two, red meat also has a good deal of selenium, a beneficial mineral for various reasons. One reason is that it is an oxidant, thus deterring the likes of cancer. They protect the cells in your body from damage.
The thyroid gland is essential for metabolism, and selenium, alongside other minerals, is necessary to keep your metabolism in good condition. It also helps keep your thyroid well. Finally, selenium also bolsters your immune system making sure you are more resilient against various viral attacks and diseases.
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Is the Corn Salt Used Harmful?
The corn salt is not harmful, only being used as a preservative and adding some natural flavor. The problem is that corn salt adds some sodium content to the beef.
Alongside the already existing sodium, this combination leads to corned beef having such high sodium. We’ve already explored the dangers of high sodium content, such as higher blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
If you don’t want such high sodium content, you might consider poultry meat or non-salted red meat.
Health Benefits of Corned Beef
Here we will list the health benefits you can gain from eating corned beef. These include:
- Corned beef helps boost muscle growth due to protein
- It keeps your metabolism in check
- It has a great deal of mineral content which helps maintain your nervous system and red blood cells
- It keeps your immune system strong
Health Problems of Corned Beef
Corned beef does pose some serious health issues. These include:
- Can lead to high blood pressure and hypertension
- Increases the risk of heart attacks
- It contains harmful fats for your body
Is Corned Beef Healthy?
Truth be told, corned beef isn’t particularly healthy. While it is a high source of protein and minerals, it comes at the expense of a good deal of saturated fats and very high sodium content (higher than other red meat alternatives). Processed red meat generally is not a healthy option, and corned beef is no exception.
Due to this, consuming corned beef frequently can incredibly damage your body due to the high concentration of saturated fat. It increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks and can lead to blocks in arteries.
Pregnant women should also avoid eating corned beef, as it affects both the women the and babies. Women can already suffer from hypertension during pregnancy, so that the beef can end up further exacerbating it.
It can also cause gastrointestinal problems. Though it is recommended to have an iron intake for the baby during this period, you can get it from other healthier sources.
Due to the higher sodium content, it is hard to include corned beef as a regular part of anyone’s diet. The sodium content makes it very unhealthy to eat frequently, so it’s recommended to only serve on special occasions.
For this reason, corned beef can be fattening and lead to you feeling bloated. One serving contains about 285 pretty high calories. While other beef also tends to be fattening, the effect is less due to having lower sodium content.
Overall, corned beef is not a very healthy option to consider and should just be regarded as a celebratory food to be eaten on some occasions. Also, corned beef does lack some vital vitamins, so it doesn’t lend itself to being on a balanced diet.
Even in red meat, regular beef is slightly more nourishing, and poultry meat is much better in the long term. If you plan to eat it, make sure to consume it in small amounts.
The answer to the question, is corned beef healthy, is no, and you should generally consider eating it rarely and in small volumes.
Although there are some health benefits to it, the possible health problems that can occur far outweigh the benefits, and as a result, you will hardly consider corned beef a healthy addition to your diet or meal plan.