Eating steak rare prevents senior citizens from absorbing all the protein they need, according to new research.
Elderly volunteers took in far fewer key amino acids – building blocks for protein – when the meat was under-cooked, compared to when they ate well-done steaks.
Young people are able to digest rare and well done meat in the same way, note the researchers from the French National Institute for Agricultiural Research.
But the digestive systems in older people struggle to break down protein in rare meat. Plus, it is thought we get less nutrients from raw than cooked meats.
The findings suggest that people over 65 should eat their beef well done to get the most protein from a meal.
A French study suggest that people over 65 should eat their beef well done to get the most protein from a meal (stock photo)
Protein is crucial for building, maintaining, and replacing muscle and organs, and to keep the heart and lungs healthy.
Getting enough of this macronutrient as we get older is important to prevent muscle loss, which is a normal part of the ageing process.
How the research was carried out
Researchers from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research and Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital, France, recruited 10 elderly volunteers aged 70-82 years.
On different occasions, the volunteers ate steak that was cooked rare; on other days, they had a steak that was well-done.
Blood tests on the volunteers after their meals provided the scientists with their findings.
‘In view to preventing sarcopenia [the degenerative loss of muscle mass] elderly subjects should be advised to favor the consumption of well-cooked meat,’ say the researchers in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
SPACE OUT PROTEIN INTAKE THROUGHOUT THE DAY
A study published last month revealed that older people who ate protein three times a day were better able to maintain muscle strength.
Research by McGill University in Montreal, Canada, found that protein improves mobility in elderly men, and led to greater muscle strength in both genders.
It is thought that protein is broken down at a faster rate in older people, meaning spreading protein throughout the day ensures there is enough to stimulate constant muscle building.
Reduced stroke risk
Furthermore, eating more protein when you are older could help prevent a stroke, a previous study has found.
Research published in 2014 in the journal Neurology discovered that people with the most protein in their diets were 20 per cent less likely to suffer one than those with the lowest amounts in their diet.
The 250,000 participants in the study ranged from their mid-30s to their 80s.
The risk went down by 26 per cent for every 20g increase in protein, scientists also found.
The researchers estimated that if everyone started eating more protein there could be 1,500,000 fewer stroke deaths per year worldwide.