In this part of the world, it is seen as a mark of affluence when foods are accompanied by the generous servings of beef. The average beef aficionado that the Westerners in Nigeria (Yoruba) call ‘orisirisi’.
The orisirisi is a mouth-wateringand appetite-inducing potpourri (ponmo), and organ meat like tripe, liver, lungs, kidney, appendix, heart, intestines and other internal foods.
Indeed when you talk of a typical Yoruba Soup ‘Efo riro’ that is the Vegetable Soup, the dish cannot be regarded as complete without the presence of orisirisi, which usually makes the vegetable a ‘foreigner’ in a dish named after it.
Some high profile hotels serve efo riro ‘elemi meje’ that is seven lives; meaning a well seasoned vegetable soup with assorted meats.
Researchers in recent times are beginning to draw attention to the possibility dangers in eating too much animal protein, of which the beef (meat) is an integral part.
Recently, the internet community went viral with the report of a study published in the online journal, Nature Medicine, warning that a compound abundant in red meat- carniture- has been detected to promote atherosclerosis (hardening or clogging of the arteries).
Dr. Stanley Hazen, the section head of preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation, Miller family Heart and Vascular Institute, Cleveland Clinic, United States of America, led the researchers.
They found out that increased Carnitine levels in patients predicted increased risks for cardiovascular disease and major cardiac events like heart attack, stroke and death.
The bacteria living in our digestive tracts are dictated by our long term dietary patterns. A diet high in carnitine actually shifts our gut microbe composition to those that like carnitine, making meat consumers even more susceptible to its artery-clogging effects. Hazen said.
Still the researchers contend, carnitine is not an essential nutrient; as the human body naturally produces all the carnitine it needs. What this means logically is that if ever we need eat meat, it must be in small quantity.
Nutritionists say red meat sure has a nutritional benefit to the overall growth of the health. A dietician, Dr. Rosemary Ogbebor, says, red meat is high in iron, which is very important to the teenage girls and women in their childbearing years. The body easily absorbs the iron in the red meat.
Again the red meat supplies the body with vitamin B12, which helps the body to make DNA and keep nerve and red blood cells healthy. It also contains zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly. Moreover, red meat provides protein, which helps to build bones and muscles.
The red meat is one of the most nutrient-rich foods, because a small serving of lean beef contributes only 180 calories, but you get many essential nutrients such as omega 3, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, riboflavin and possibly vitamin D.
Nutritionists are of the opinion that red meat should not be caught off totally from the regular diet. They advocate portion control, and also counsel that it should not be allowed to crowd out fruits, vegetable and whole grains during any meal.
They also advise that when buying red meat, you should opt for lean meat, instead of fat-ridden parts like the torso and organs meats.
Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology and Medical Director of MART Life-Detox Clinic, Lagos, Oladipo Ashiru, warns that excessive consumption of beef could shorten life span.
Through meat is a rich source of protein, too much of it a diet could pose long term cardiovascular risks.
He also warns that a diet bathed in excessive red meat could lead to a decline in the kidney functions and lead to gout (Swollen joints); in addition contributing to the increase risks of heart disease and cancer.
He says eating too much of meat, fish and other key sources of protein contribute to the state of bad health, because they take longer to digest. When you eat lots of protein and meat, it takes significantly time to digest.
This is because meat takes time to be broken down, and that means that the enzymes in the stomach and the intestines will have lots of work to do to process them. It really takes time to process this down compared to the vegetables and fruits.
A nutritionist with the UNICEF, Dr. John Egbuta, is of the view that the real danger is not in the red meat; rather it is the presentation.
This is because, with the frying comes the excessive absorption of oil, which then increases the fat content and result in health complications, including high cholesterol, which is hazardous to the body.