What is Myoglobin?

December 24, 2020

Myoglobin functions as the oxygen-carrying protein found in muscle cells and it gives muscle its distinct red colour; the redder the meat, the higher the concentration of myoglobin (ie. "red meat" vs. "white meat"). 

We tend to find high concentrations of myoglobin in muscles that need to generate a lot of force, hence "red meat" animals are large mammals like cows and deer, while "white meat" animals are small birds such as chickens. Even within the same animal, some muscle groups will contain higher concentrations of myoglobin than others, for example the dark meat versus white meat of a turkey. 

Myoglobin is often confused with Haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying protein found in blood. Structurally, these two globular proteins are nearly identical, both using iron-containing Heme groups to bind oxygen. Haemoglobin is essentially 4 molecules of myoglobin bound together (to conceptualise the difference in structure between the 2, you can think of haemoglobin as a 4-leaf-clover & myoglobin as a 1-leaf-clover).  Therefore, a liquid containing even the slightest amount of myoglobin will closely resemble blood. 

When you cut into a piece of raw meat, myoglobin will seep out of the cut and produce the appearance of blood (same result from thawing store bought meat that has already been cut for you).

Myoglobin seeping out of an 8lb beef heart as it thaws

Myoglobin pooling in a tray as beef liver thaws


While it may seem unsettling to collect the myoglobin that seeps out of raw meat, disposing of this important protein while keeping the muscle (meat) itself, means you are missing out on the true nutritional value of the meat you are feeding. 

Much of the iron content in meat is held within these molecules. A great way to preserve myoglobin, and what I personally do, is to collect the myoglobin in a container after thawing or cutting any meats (whether it be for human consumption or your pet's meal prep), then pour it into silicone moulds and stick them in the freezer, so that they may be added to meals the next day/everyday. You can also simply pour the myoglobin you have collected, directly over the meat you are about to serve your pet, or in their meal prep containers, and freeze or feed it that way!

Frozen myoglobin using bone mould

Have you ever fed myoglobin to your pets? If so, were you aware of how beneficial it is?

Follow me on instagram @nolorlin for more raw feeding content & recipes!


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