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Consumers underestimate health benefits of meat: survey

By Maggie Hennessy , 28-Apr-2014

Most consumers don’t fully recognize the nutrition benefits of meat and poultry, according to a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll for the American Meat Institute (AMI).

Just 12% of consumers correctly identified animal products like meat and poultry as the only natural source of Vitamin B12, which keeps the nervous system healthy. One fifth (20%) said cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower were the natural source of B12 and 13% thought the correct answer was citrus fruit. Neither of these foods contain Vitamin B12.

AMI’s survey also showed consumers don’t know that the body absorbs more iron from meat and poultry than from other foods. Meat and poultry contain “heme” iron, the most absorbable form, but 52% of consumers incorrectly thought the body absorbed the most iron from spinach, kale and other leafy greens, which are indeed high in iron, albeit the less absorbable, “non-heme” form. Only 17% correctly named meat, poultry and fish. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies iron deficiency anemia as most common nutritional deficiency in the US.

When asked which food groups Americans consume at the recommended levels, 31% said the protein group. According to USDA, this group, which includes meat, poultry, seafood and beans is the only one consumed in the correct amount. Twenty two percent answered grains, 21% answered dairy and 20% answered fats, oils and sweets.  Half of consumers (48%) said they did not know.

These findings are similar to recent research by NPD Group, which found that most consumers agree that protein is necessary in a healthy diet, but three quarters said they didn’t know the recommended daily amount. In general, men and women need between 46 and 56 grams of protein per day. 

The survey was conducted online from March 24 to 26, 2014, among 2,167 US adults ages 18 and older. 

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