Lamb is a high-quality,
nutritious meat, rich in easily absorbed minerals and B vitamins,
particularly B12. Lamb comes from sheep less than one year of age and often
as young as 5 to 7 months. Special varieties include baby or hot-house lamb,
which is only 6 to 10 weeks old, and the meat of lambs raised in salt
marshes, which has an unmistakably briny tang. Mutton comes from sheep older
than one year, and it has a more robust taste. Lamb comes in a variety of
cuts including legs, shoulder, roast, chops, ground, foreshank, and
Lamb is the primary meat in parts
of Europe, North Africa, the Middle east, and India. But it has never
enjoyed the same popularity in North America. In 2000, for example, per
capital consumption of lamb was only 1.12 lb (0.5 kg), while the average
North American consumes more than 50 lb (22.7 kg) of beef.
RICH IN NUTRITION
Among red meats, lamb stands out
for its high nutritional value. Although some cuts are high in fat, lamb is
not marbled like beef. since much of its fat is on the outside of the meat,
it can be trimmed before cooking. In addition, the meat is tender, because
it is the relatively little-used muscle of young animals. A 3-oz (85-g)
portion of roasted lean lamb contains approximately 200 calories, with about
22 g of protein and less than 10 g of fat.
Lamb is a rich source of protein,
B-complex vitamins, as well as iron, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium.
Because it is easily digestible and almost never associated with food
allergies, it is a good protein food for people of all ages.
Lamb is a source of conjugated
linoleic acid (CLA), a group of fatty acids that occur naturally in meat and
milk products from ruminant animals. Animal studies have found that CLA
improved cholesterol profiles and delayed the development of
atherosclerosis. In addition, CLA may have anti-carcinogenic properties.
Although it is premature to draw definitive conclusions about the protective
benefits of CLAs, there is growing interest and research in this area.