Many people who hail from “cattle country” know beef for its exceptional taste or recognize the economic benefit it provides to the local economy. But what many people don’t know is that beef is one of the most-nutrient dense foods available for the fewest calories. Beef is an excellent source of six essential vitamins and nutrients and a good source of four additional vitamins and nutrients. According to USDA guidelines, a serving of food must provide more than 20 percent of the recommended daily value of a nutrient in order to be considered an excellent source. To be a good source, it must contain more than 10 percent.
Beef is 10s all around, because a single, three-ounce serving of lean beef provides more than 10 percent each of 10 essential nutrients for less than 10 percent of your daily calories! This is one reason we think beef is the ultimate “super food.”
Three of the top commonly recognized nutrients provided by beef are zinc, iron and protein (or ZIP), but beef also provides selenium, niacin, phosphorus, choline, riboflavin and vitamins B6 and B12, all of which are vital to healthy bodies. One three-ounce serving of lean beef provides all of this for right around 150 calories. In fact, you would have to eat three cups (666 calories) of quinoa or six tablespoons (564 calories) of peanut butter to get the same amount of protein as you do in one serving of lean beef.
A common misconception about beef is that it contains high levels of saturated fat. However, 2/3 of beef cuts meet the USDA guidelines for classification as lean, and the external fat in retail beef cuts has decreased by 80 percent in the last 20 years due to improvements made throughout the beef supply chain. In addition, nearly half the fatty acids in beef are monounsaturated fats, which is the same kind of healthy fat found in olive oil. Beef is considered one of the top sources of this type of fat.
Lean beef has even more health benefits. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from Penn State University found that study participants who consumed lean beef daily as a part of a heart-healthy diet experienced a 10 percent decline in LDL (or bad) cholesterol.
This information has us ready to celebrate by dining on a heart-healthy beef recipe such as this steak, green bean and tomato salad. To learn more about beef’s role in a heart-healthy diet, visit www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/nutrition.aspx.
We are going to continue our celebration of beef month with more fun facts and helpful tips. Remember to enter our beef month contest drawing to be entered to win one of three $50 beef gift certificates. Visit https://goo.gl/Xm7evC for contest details.
Photo courtesy of the Beef Checkoff.