Should we be skipping for nutrition joy over kangaroo meat? – by guest expert Jade Ashby

When you think of Australia, what comes to mind?  Sunshine, beaches, BBQ’s….and kangaroos.  Today there’s very good a chance that a prawn will be tossed aside, for a lean kangaroo fillet on that said BBQ.  Yes really, our overseas friends. So it’s time to explore the nutrition pros and cons as kangaroo meat goes mainstream.

Dietitian-to-be Jade Ashby final semester of a Bachelor Science (Nutrition) (Honours)About our expert:

Dietitian-to-be Jade Ashby is in her final semester of a Bachelor Science (Nutrition) (Honours) at the University of Sydney.  She enjoys translating nutrition information into practical advice and has an insatiable love for cooking and eating.  She is probably in her kitchen right now whipping up a tasty and balanced meal, which will soon be followed by the rhetorical question “do you know how good this is for you?”.  Check out her recipes and blog The Good Food Theory and Facebook page.

Have you tried kangaroo meat?  Or maybe the idea doesn’t sit well in your stomach.  It is understandable that you may be apprehensive particularly if you associate kangaroo with cute cuddly stuffed toys, our national emblem or dare I say, Skippy.

Naturally nutrient rich

From a nutritional perspective kangaroo meat ticks all the boxes.  Rosemary Stanton highlighted the nutritional benefits of kangaroo meat by including it in her Best Health Foods , Australian Food Guide.  She wrote:

Extremely low in fat, kangaroo meat has virtually no saturated fat. Its levels of protein and zinc are similar to those of other meats, but it has more iron, twice as much vitamin B12 and higher levels of most other B vitamins.

Not a bad nutritional wrap.  Check out more info at Macro Meats Gourmet Game.

kangaroo meat nutrients and calories per 100 grams

Hopping onto the negative press

This image of kangaroo meat as a healthy option however was tainted earlier this year by research published in Nature Medicine.  The study concluded that individuals who consume meat (opposed to vegans and vegetarians) have higher amounts of certain gut microbes required to metabolise L-carnitine to produce trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO).  TMAO accelerates atherosclerosis, thereby increasing cardiovascular risk.  Although TMAO was said to be the primary driver of the association of L-carnitine with cardiovascular risk, the precursor of interest L-carnitine is found in animal products like meat, fish, poultry and milk, with red meat containing the highest amount.  This study was therefore associated with kangaroo meat as it contains a higher amount of L-carnitine compared to other red meats.

Numerous experts in the field responded to the findings of the study.  Professor John Funder, Executive Chairman of Obesity Australia, stated that it was a “fascinating series of studies, in mice and human subjects, pointing to a causative role for L-carnitine in atherosclerosis”.

Other experts also acknowledged the study but stated that further investigation was needed.  Director of Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Professor Garry Jennings, said that “red meat consumption remains controversial and therefore this study makes an important contribution to that discussion. However, the evidence is not sufficiently compelling to cause concern amongst the red meat industry and a balanced diet remains the best recommendation for Australians”.

Given that many experts stated that further investigation was needed, one should take this into account and remember to not overlook the positive nutritional components of kangaroo meat (or red meat), nor the current dietary recommendations.

Stick to the right portions

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends that individuals consume a maximum of seven serves of lean red meat per week, where a serve is quantified as 65 grams.  This is typically expressed as a palm sized portion of lean red meat 3-4 times per week.  The World Cancer Research Fund also recommends that people who eat red meat should consume less than 500 grams (measured as cooked weight) per week.  Do you eat an amount of red meat within that range?  Maybe you do, or perhaps you are one of many Australians who eat a much greater amount of red meat.  If this is the case, it would be better to reduce the total amount of red meat consumed rather than avoid kangaroo meat because of its higher L-carnitine level.  Perhaps it’s time for you to hop (!) to the supermarket and get some kangaroo on your BBQ?   Check out kangaroo meat bangas, steak, fillets, mince and diced meat.

Editor’s comment:

Thanks Jade for your excellent post and well done on blogging.  Kangaroo meat is really the ultimate in free range as there are no commercial farms. There is also a National Code of Practice around humane harvesting of animals if anyone has concerns.   And I love the taste profile.  The big question is if kangaroo meat becomes so popular, can we keep on large scale supply?  You’d need some super high fences to domesticate a single herd for farming alone. And I’d love to see my Uncle, the cattle farmer, try to muster kangaroos! Love to hear if you’re into kangaroo meat lovely readers?

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