Reindeer – the healthiest meat

Reindeer meat is healthier than beef or pork. This is not just because of its healthy low fat content. Reindeer meat also has a much higher content of vitamins and minerals.

The health advantages of reindeer meat have a great deal to do with the fact that reindeer spend a large part of the year out in vast open pastures, get more physical activity and eat lichen, heather, herbs and berries, which are packed with antioxidants. This rich intake of antioxidants also means that when frozen the meat will keep much longer than that of most farm animals.

Reindeer from Kautokeino top the statistics

A comprehensive survey carried out by Matforsk – Nofima Mat shows that the area in which the reindeer graze affects the level of antioxidants in the meat. In the survey, meat from reindeer that had been grazing in the Kautokeino area was compared with reindeer meat from Røros. The results showed that the meat from Kautokeino had a considerably higher antioxidant level than that from Røros. Moreover the reindeer meat from both areas contained far more antioxidants than meat from farm animals.

Collaborating with New Zealand

The survey was commissioned by the reindeer husbandry development fund. It shows up a great need for further studies, to more thoroughly characterise the health promoting properties of reindeer meat. A collaboration project has therefore been set up between researchers from Norway and from New Zealand, which is the world’s biggest exporter of game. At the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ellen Triumf is working towards her masters degree, the intention of her work being to find health promoting components in meat that are dependent on where the animal comes from and how it has been fed. She will be the link between the research teams in Norway and New Zealand. She has previously studied venison quality in New Zealand.

New research project on the way

SFR, the committee which allocates funding for research into reindeer husbandry, recently granted NOK 700,000 to a follow up project commencing in autumn 2008. This will investigate any changes which occur to the health promoting properties of reindeer meat during cold storage and freezing.

The project group will also be working on finding optimum storage conditions and packaging solutions for fresh reindeer meat, because the fresh meat is much more attractive than frozen.

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