When it comes to Eid al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice) in Turkey, the religious holiday turns into a feast of eating and serving meat (most of the time at barbecue parties), traditional desserts and various appetizers, which vary according to the preferences of the host. However, excessive consumption of red meat and foods high in sugar can cause serious health problems for some. Since the traditional meals offered to guests throughout Bayram guests generally consist of high-calorie foods that are high in saturated fat, the holiday could land some people in the hospital.
Actually, the only point demanding extra caution is not just how you consume meat. The entire process including the pre-sacrifice phase, conserving the meat and its preparation style, is important. For example, it is not healthy to consume just meat during meal times. It will be better for your health to consume vegetables or salad to allow your body to absorb the Vitamin C and Vitamin E content. To reduce fat content, remove the fat from the meat before cooking and do not cook it over high heat, as it will remove the meat's Vitamin B content. Instead, cook the meat in its own natural juices.
A member of the University of Health Sciences Gülhane Medical Faculty Associate Professor Ümit Aydoğan spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA), saying: "To be able to lead a healthy and productive life, a person should consume all the food he or she needs in sufficient amounts, taking their age, gender and physiological factors into consideration," Aydoğan said, adding that food consumed more than the needed amount will be harmful for the body.
Studies show that one in every five people over the age of 15 in Turkey are overweight, and most of them are women.
While sugar, chocolate, desserts and pastries are widely consumed during Eid al-Adha, meat consumption also increases during the holiday. Animal source proteins should be consumed in a controlled manner as they contain high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. While consuming these foods in moderate will prevent serious health problems in healthy people, this is not the case for overweight people and those who have high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stomach and bowel diseases. Such people are generally advised to consume low-fat or lean meats that are boiled or grilled.
It is also important that the animal you sacrifice be inspected by an animal clinic prior to the sacrifice ritual to prevent exposure to infectious diseases. Experts advise that meat should be baked, boiled or grilled rather than cooked in oil. If you are planning to barbecue, be sure that you cook the meat to a turn. It should be kept in mind that meat should be consumed with vegetables or beans and not fried. On the other hand, people with high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases must be cautious when consuming giblets.
During your eid visits, try to eat less and moderate, thinking of your health. For example, instead of eating foods that are high in sugar, choose milk-based puddings rather than desserts with syrup and consume sugar-free beverages. Try to sustain your daily breakfast routine and drink enough water. Taking these recommendations into consideration will decrease your risk of developing health problems during Bayram.
Forget about proverbs praising meat consumption and try to be moderate in consuming all kinds of tastes during the holiday.
An expert in endocrinology and metabolic diseases at Bezmialem Foundation University Medicine Faculty Hospital, Prof. Ertuğrul Taşan gave some advice on meat consumption during eid. He said that instead of consuming meat immediately after it has been cut, let it rest for one to two hours in a cool place and consume it in small amounts throughout the meal time.
Stating that the meat must be left to rest and soften in the fridge for 24 hours, Taşan said, "It is not healthy to consume fried meat prepared with the meat of freshly sacrificed animals at breakfast. This will cause problems for the digestive system. Lunch time will be much more suitable for such a meal. Try not to consume too much protein and animal fat at breakfast. Keep it in mind that even 20 percent of a meat, which doesn't have apparent fat, consists of animal fat."
Cardiovascular surgery expert at Medicana Çamlıca Hospital, Associate Prof. Alper Uçak warned people against excessive salt consumption during Eid al-Adha. Especially patients with coronary stent should be extremely cautious when consuming meat and sweets. If they don't, they could face sudden cardiac arrest. Patients with coronary heart disease could suffer from a heart attack or cerebral palsy in such sudden cardiac cases like increased blood pressure.
An intern at Derindere Hospital, Ergün Kasapoğlu stated that meat comes first in the list of foods that cause digestion problems. The stiffness seen on freshly cut meat causes difficulty not just for digestion, but also in the cooking phase. Kasapoğlu also said that to be able to increase iron absorption, red meat should be consumed with vitamin C-rich foods.
Expert in endocrinology and metabolic diseases at Medicana International Istanbul Hospital, Associate Prof. Fevzi Balkan also said that in order to be able to optimize the health benefits of red meat, it is important to follow a healthy cooking and storage process.
Before putting the meat into the freezer, drain the blood from the meat and let it rest in a dark environment for one to two hours before cutting it.
It is not possible to freeze large pieces of meat, as the inner parts of the meat cannot be frozen. Hence, such pieces may spoil. It is another important point to note that frozen meat should be thawed in the fridge. Meat and meat products taken out of the freezer should not be refrozen, as this results in bacterial growth and can result in the meat being spoiled.