When you purchase red meat from a local butcher, you will notice the red juice leaking out of the meat into the package. The same juice can also be leaking out while cooking the meat. For those who do not like blood, it can be extremely uncomfortable.
No wonder, those who have an aversion to blood turned vegetarian or avoided eating red meat. However, the red juice leaking from the red meat is not actually blood. Most of the blood is removed from the meat during slaughter. This is why you do not see any blood in raw white meat like chicken.
1 What’s this red juice if it is not blood?
What you find in red meat is actually a mixture of water and protein, which is popularly known as myoglobin. Myoglobin is a protein which is responsible for transferring oxygen to the muscle cells. This protein contains a high level of red pigments, so the more myoglobin the meat contains, the darker it will be. This protein is usually found in the muscle tissues of almost all mammals and vertebrates and its main role is to transfer oxygen to muscle cells.
The terms red, white, and brown meat are also indicators of the presence of myoglobin in the meat.
2 Is myoglobin responsible for making meats “red”, “white”, or “brown”?
The answer is yes! The level of myoglobin in the meats usually indicates whether it will be a white, brown, or red meat. As myoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen to muscle cells, the more muscles are used, the greater amount of myoglobin they will contain.
Red meat is comprised of several different muscles for different activities. This is why they contain a high amount of myoglobin. On the other hand, white meat is comprised only of those muscles that are used for quick bursts of activity. This is why they contain lower amounts of myoglobin.
Some poultry animals like chicken contain both white and red meat. The dark meats are primarily found in the leg muscles as they use leg muscles more actively for jumping and flying.
3 How to know if the meat is fresh
The simplest way to identify whether the meat is fresh or not is to see the date of packaging. You can also identify the freshness of the meat by looking at its color. When myoglobin is exposed to air, it eventually turns brown. This means that the red meat is fresher than the meat that has turned brown.
4 What are the health benefits of red meat and white meat?
Dark meat contains more fats than white meat. In poultry, red meat is also richer in nutrients, including selenium, iron, vitamin B, and zinc than white meat.
Red meat contains saturated fat which is not good for health. It is also widely stated that eating red meat can also lead to heart diseases.