The Secret Ingredient that Makes Meat Healthier (with Recipe!)

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147975640Dietary fiber is crucial to your health, yet most Americans only consume half of the daily recommended amount, over-consuming fiber-less animal products instead. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), people should consume between 20 to 35 grams of fiber every day.

When learning how to eat healthy, incorporating fiber into your diet in creative ways becomes crucial. And new research has come up with a simple and easy way to ensure that you don’t have to give up on your favorite meat dishes to do it. 

(To skip to the recipe, click here)

Why Fiber Is Fabulous

Fiber is the element in plants that the human body doesn’t digest. In fact, fiber passes through the digestive tract rapidly and mainly intact. Because it’s mostly intact, fiber helps move carcinogens and stool through your system, improving detoxification processes and “regularity.”

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. The Mayo Clinic explains that “soluble fiber dissolves with water and creates a gel-like substance that helps to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, [whereas] insoluble fiber absorbs water, which adds bulk to your digestive tract and helps to move things through quickly.” Some examples of soluble fiber include beans, citrus fruits, oats, peas, apples and rice bran. Insoluble fiber include cabbage, nuts, whole wheat flour, carrots and brussel sprouts.

If you want to learn how to eat healthy, remember this: fiber is your best friend, as it offers numerous health benefits. Dietary fiber can:

  • Prevent or relieve constipation
  • Reduce sluggishness
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Lower your cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • Generally help you maintain a healthy weight by making you feel satiated more quickly and for a longer duration on less calories.

On the other hand, insufficient fiber in your diet can increase your risk of colon cancer, obesity, and other serious health issues.

How to Eat Healthy Meat Dishes with the Help of One Secret Ingredient

Motivated to help people increase their fiber intake, Ayca Gedikoglu and a team of researchers at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources investigated the effectiveness of adding citrus fiber to ground beef. They were successfully able to do so without compromising the meat’s quality, texture or flavor.

The team made three batches of meatballs; each batch contained a different percentage of sweet and tangy citrus powder (1%, 5%, or 10%), so that the researchers could determine how much fiber powder could be added without negatively impacting the meatballs’ cooking characteristics, taste or texture.

The researchers were able to maintain acceptable color, taste and texture in the 1% and 5% batches. Just how much fiber do the magic meatballs contain? A restaurant-sized serving of meatballs with 2% citrus powder contains 5 grams of fiber, compared to typical meatballs which don’t contain any fiber at all.

Another Health Benefit of Adding Citrus Fiber to Meat

Another added benefit of adding citrus fiber to meat is that it contains vitamin C. In addition to protecting against immune system deficiencies and against cardiovascular disease, eating foods that are both high in vitamin C and rich in iron (like meat) enable the body to better absorb the iron in a more efficient and effective way.

How to Make Your Own Healthy Recipe for High-Fiber Turkey Quinoa Meatballs

Citrus powder can be found online at a fairly cheap price, and is also available at many local health food stores. Try making your own fiber-filled, healthier meat balls with this recipe!

Healthy Recipe for High-Fiber Turkey Meatballs

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For the Meatballs
1 lb lean ground turkey
2/3 cup cooked red quinoa
3 tbsp (heaping) of citrus fiber powder (optional)
1 egg, beaten
5 cloves of crushed garlic
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

For the Sauce
1 large can of diced tomatoes, including the liquid
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions
1. Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl until well blended, and roll mixture into tight balls.
2. In a skillet, heat up some olive oil, lightly brown the outside of the meatballs and then set them aside on a plate.
3. In a separate bowl, stir all of the sauce ingredients together, and pour half of it into the bottom of a crock pot. Place the meatballs inside of the crock pot, and then pour the rest of the sauce on top.
4. Cook the meatballs on High for 3-4 hours, or on Low for 5-6 hours.

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