It’s always nice when off-the-charts amounts of nutrients come wrapped up in delicious, satisfying foods. And patients are more likely to stick to healthful diets when they know they can eat foods they genuinely enjoy. One food that health professionals can confidently recommend to patients is lamb.
Lamb is a staple food year-round in some regions of the world, but in North America, it’s more common in spring. Cultural practices and religious rituals dating back thousands of years used the traditional sacrifice of a lamb to honor religious laws and mark the beginning of the spring season. In the modern age, many families’ Easter dinners and Passover Seders wouldn’t be complete without a centerpiece of succulent lamb.
It’s interesting that, for many individuals, vegetables and fruit usually come to mind first upon hearing the phrase “vitamins and minerals.” The surprising truth is, the meat of ruminant animals contains an array of nutrients that rivals most produce. The nutrient profile of lamb is similar to that of grass-fed beef, which is known for its generous concentration of minerals and B vitamins. Besides being a fantastic source of complete protein, lamb provides impressive amounts of the B family, and is particularly high in niacin and B12. It’s also loaded with zinc, iron, copper, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and even contains appreciable amounts of magnesium—a mineral more closely associated with leafy green vegetables. In light of all this, lamb might be the tastiest multivitamin around!
Most lamb available in North America is grass-fed and grass-finished. The raising of lamb for meat is still a relatively small industry, so unlike beef production, it does not rely on animal feed consisting mostly of subsidized grain. Many small farmers across the continent raise lamb on pasture year-round, so you can find it at a local farmers’ market or online. Imported lamb largely comes from Australia and New Zealand, where it is also primarily grass-fed and finished.