According to aficionados, raw foods are super healthy and far superior to the cooked foods most of us consume.
According to virtually all nutritionists, however, raw food diets are a fad, and are not necessarily healthier.
It’s a question of absorption, and scientists understand that cooked foods often enhance the body’s ability to absorb critical nutrients. For example, beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, is better absorbed from cooked carrots than from raw carrots.
But this is a story about the effect of cooking on protein absorption from beef, especially in older adults.
In a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Didier Remond from the University of Clermont Avergne in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and colleagues compared the protein absorption from rare beef to that of well-done beef. The subjects were 10 men aged 70-82 years.
Of course, that’s way beyond my demographic, but nevertheless, it’s necessary to review the study’s conclusions.
Luscious Versus Leathery
To quote from a report on the study by the American Council on Science and Health, “The scientists used beef that had been cooked for 5 minutes at about 130 degrees F (rare meat or RM), or 30 minutes at about 195 degrees F (Fully Cooked Meat or FCM). The beef was labeled with a non-radioactive isotope of nitrogen and ground up. About one ounce was fed to the participants, with the men consuming both types of meat over two-week intervals, half beginning with RM and the rest with FCM.”
A lot to unpack there.
First of all, 30 minutes of cooking at 195 degrees F seems like a lot, compared with 5 minutes at 130 F. That’s basically the difference between steak tartare and shoe leather, which makes me wonder if these “subjects” were guys confined to some nursing home, barely able to finish a single ounce of meat cooked past the point of no return.
But I guess these scientists proved something, because hourly blood samples demonstrated that the entrance of amino acids from the meat into the men’s blood peaked at about an hour-and-a-half after eating and was significantly greater when the men had consumed the well-done beef.
The authors concluded that digestion speed was faster for the geezers eating the well-cooked beef, which was not true in a similar study in young adults, according to the report. In addition, eating the well-done beef was also associated with a “significant increase in whole-body protein synthesis during the postprandial period.”
Do you know what that means? As we slide into those sunset years, we’ll not only have to look forward to returning to the days of wearing a bib and diapers, but we’ll be spoon-fed dry, tasteless meat so well-done that it will be next to impossible to gum your way through a meal without running the main course through a blender.
Personally, I don’t give a damn what a bunch of Franco-philes claim to have discovered about digestion. What the heck do they know about la boeuf? Order a steak in a Parisian bistro, and they serve you a hunk of cowhide that’s thin, flat and tasteless.
Only drenched in some mystery sauce with a couple lonely sprigs of green foliage “artfully” arranged on top.
I don’t care if I end up a drooling vegetable in a wheelchair, with my last breath I’ll be ordering some young punks to get off my lawn.
And for somebody serve me a steak that’s red and rare.
Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.