Eating a variety of foods from this group provides many nutrients, including protein, iron, zinc and other minerals and vitamins (particularly those of the vitamin B group).
Vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal-based products.23
Lean red meat is high in iron and can be an important food, especially for some groups including women (particularly when pregnant)24 and athletes.
However, regular consumption of larger quantities of red meat may be associated with increased risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer.25
In fact, the World Cancer Research Fund states that “red or processed meats are convincing or probable causes of some cancers.”26
Fish is low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat and a rich source of iodine.27
Fish, particularly oily fish such as salmon and tuna, can be a valuable source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Consumption has been linked with reducing the risk of many chronic diseases and various disorders such as poor eyesight, inflammation, dementia, cardiovascular disease, depression and diabetes.28-30
Eggs provide a low cost source of protein and other nutrients, and are quick and easy to prepare.31
Alternatives to animal foods, including nuts, seeds, legumes, beans and tofu, can provide a valuable, affordable source of protein and other nutrients that are found in meat.
There is increasing evidence that consuming protein from plant rather than animal sources may in fact be one of the reasons why vegetarians generally have a lower risk of being overweight, obese or experiencing chronic disease.32
Including nuts as a regular component of your diet is recommended, and has been linked with regulating inflammatory processes,32 improved glycemic control,33 weight maintenance,32 and cholesterol lowering properties.34