What is Lamb? Lamb is the meat from young sheep that are less than one year old. This red meat is very healthy and extremely delicious, having a very tender and buttery quality.
It is usually available in five different cuts including the shoulder, rack, shank/breast, loin and leg. Additionally, many stores sell it already ground to be used to make burgers, meat loaf or sauces.
Spring Lamb: When lamb is labeled as “spring lamb” it means that the lamb was brought to the market during the spring and summer months which was formerly the season for fresh lamb. Spring lamb has a uniquely delicate flavor and texture. Lambs born in the early springs are generally ready for market beginning at about 6 weeks of age. Their meat is officially categorized as “lamb” up to 14 months of age; between 14 months and 2 years, it is yearling lamb (hogget in some sheep-raising regions); and after 2 years, the strong-flavored meat is called mutton, which is rarely eaten. Today lamb is now available throughout the year, and the label “spring lamb” does not necessarily connote additional quality.
Grassfed lamb vs Factory raised lamb: Without any question a grassfed lamb is superior in quality and taste. Lamb raised on grass produces meat that is lean, tender, fine-grained, and has a delicate flavor. But it’s not just superior to store-bought lamb in taste; grassfed lamb is more wholesome and better for your health than factory-raised lamb.
Grassfed lamb contains two to six times more omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and other ailments. It also builds muscle and burns fat. Pasture-raised products contain three to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than those of animals fed conventional diets. Studies have shown that CLA reduces the risk of cancer in humans.
Grading Lamb meat: Inspection of lamb mean is mandatory but grading is voluntary, therefore not all lamb will be labeled with a grade. Those that carry the label Prime and Choice are the most tender and flavorful, but also have the higher fat content.
Health Benefits of Lamb Meat:
- Lamb meat is rich in selenium. Deficiencies in this mineral have been shown to double the occurrence of asthma attacks.
- Lamb is a good protein food for people of all ages, with all 8 essential amino acids in the proper ratio. Four ounces of lamb meat provides 60.3% of an adult male’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein.
- Lamb contains less saturated fat than other red meat product; a study shows that only about 36% of the fat in lamb is saturated. The rest is monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat or the “good fat.”
- Lamb is a rich source of B-complex vitamins, as well as iron, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Vitamin B12 support the formation of red blood cells and prevent anemia, it is also necessary for healthy nervous system and the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Niacin is necessary for healthy skin, and gastro-intestinal tract.
- Lamb is a good source of zinc which is important for a healthy immune function and for wound healing, and normal cell division. Zinc also helps stabilize blood sugar levels and the body’s metabolic rate, and is necessary for an optimal sense of smell and taste. Zinc is an especially important nutrient for men because it helps maintain the prostate health. A four-ounce serving of lamb contains 38.3% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for zinc.
- Lamb contains very little marbling (internal fat throughout the meat), as compared to other meats.
Nutrient Content of Lamb Meat: per 100 gm
- Fat: 9.4 gm.
- Calories: 215
- Iron: 1.2 mg.
- Cholesterol: 95 mg.
Buying tip: Although lamb is generally a very tender meat, there are still signs you can look for to better ensure high quality. Buy lamb whose flesh is firm and fine textured and pink in color. Any fat surrounding or marbled throughout the lamb should be white, not yellow.
Storing tips: Lamb is highly perishable therefore it should always be kept at cold temperatures, either refrigerated or frozen. Refrigerate the lamb in the original store packaging, if it is still intact and secure, as this will reduce the amount of handling involved.
“This post was originally published on January 14, 2012 @ 7:13″