Think Beef Doesn’t Fit on Your Plate? Think Again.

A fresh salad topped with lean beef

Greek Steak Chopped Salad

Myth: Beef doesn’t have a place on my plate as part of a healthy diet.

Fact: Beef still has a place on your plate, and you can feel confident that there are a variety of ways to include beef on your plate as part of a healthy diet.

Leading experts agree that when it comes to a healthy diet, one size does not fit all.  In fact, some of the nation’s foremost health and nutrition experts including Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, a leading researcher in cardiovascular nutrition, and Dr. Brian Wansink, former executive director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Washington D.C. who led the development of the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recently reviewed some of the most popular diets and rated them as part of the annual U.S. News and World Report Best Diets 2015. According to these, and many other experts, there are some primary characteristics to consider when choosing your individual diet and lifestyle:

  • how easy the diet is to follow and commit to long term
  • the ability to produce short, and long-term results
  • the nutritional completeness, such as the right mixture of fat, carbs and protein that are necessary
  • the potential for helping prevent and manage long-term illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease

While scientists and nutrition experts continue to debate the elusive “perfect diet,” research continues to reinforce the basic principles we’ve known for a long time – there is a flexible range of fat, carbs and protein that people can eat to get the nutrients they need to enjoy good health.

Luckily, some of the most popular, easy-to-follow and nutritious diets DO have one thing in common—they ALL can include lean beef.

Recognizing that everyone is a little different, here’s the breakdown of some of the most popular healthy diets so you can decide what works best for you:

Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet – Aimed at preventing and reducing high blood pressure (hypertension), the DASH diet is often referred to as a “gold standard” diet because it’s been as effective as medications in reducing the risk of major chronic diseases and includes a healthy mix of foods, including lean protein and lean meat.

  • Brief overview and highlights:  
    • The DASH diet includes a healthy variety of foods, including lean protein and lean meat, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat and non-fat dairy, nuts, beans and seeds.
    • Given that the DASH diet doesn’t allow for very much salt, sugar or refined foods, some people report having a hard time adhering to it.
    • The DASH diet is also considered a low-fat diet, meaning that you’ll have to keep track of the amount of fat you eat each day as part of this diet.
  • Looking to beef up your plate?
    • For those looking for more flavorful options full of natural umami, there is good news. The Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) study, which was based on the DASH diet and published by Dr. Kris-Etherton, found that including lean beef in an overall healthy diet, even daily, is as effective in reducing your total and bad cholesterol levels as the more commonly accepted DASH diet. So, for you beef lovers out there, you can beef up your DASH diet, while also lowering your cholesterol and eating healthy.
    • Interested in trying out BOLD? Learn more about the BOLD diet and even get a sample menu.

Mediterranean Diets – You may have heard the phrase “plant-based diet” or “Mediterranean diet” and wondered what these really mean. You’re not alone. In fact, there is no single set of criteria for what defines a plant-based or Mediterranean diet. The American Heart Association points out that since there are at least 16 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, diets may vary between these countries.

  • Brief overview and highlights:
    • In general, Mediterranean diets can be described as an eating pattern that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil and grains (often whole grains), with small amounts of meat and full-fat milk and milk products.
    • The DASH diet is often known as being a “plant-based” diet. Unlike the DASH diet, which is moderate in fat and low in saturated fat, Mediterranean diets are more liberal in fat content, meaning higher amounts of certain fats are a good thing for this dietary pattern.
    • More than half the fat calories in a Mediterranean diet come from monounsaturated fats. More than half of beef’s fatty acids are monounsaturated (good) fat – the same kind found in olive oil and avocados.
    • Be careful of which “plant-based” proteins you eat—most Americans are already consuming a plant-based diet. On average, more than 60 percent of our daily calories already come from plants, such as refined grains. A plant-based diet requires eating more calories to get the protein our bodies need.  Be sure to consider total calorie consumption if you’re following a plant-based diet.
  • Looking to beef up your plate?
    • Good news for you—if you’ve travelled abroad, you’ve probably seen lean meat on the plates in many Mediterranean countries. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reviewed research showing that most Mediterranean Diets do, in fact, include common intakes of red and processed meats.  According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the average intake of meat for each of these dietary patterns were as follows:
      • DASH diet – 1.4 oz. red meat daily
      • USDA Food Pattern – 1.8 oz. red meat daily
      • Mediterranean Patterns – 3.5-3.6 oz. all meat, including red meat, daily
      • Typical U.S. Adult Intake – 2.5 oz. red meat daily
    • Beef is the perfect partner to fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains.
    • Looking to take a mental trip to the Mediterranean? Check out this Mediterranean Beef and Salad Pita recipe or get ideas of ways to transform traditional meals into nutrient-packed meals with beef.

High protein and lower carbohydrates diets – There is no doubt that protein is a “hot topic” nutrient. As people look for ways to add more of this powerhouse nutrient to their diet, the popularity of eating plans such as Paleo, Atkins or other higher protein diets continue to grow. An increasing body of evidence suggests that protein plays an important role in weight management by increasing satiety (staying full longer), helping support strong, lean bodies and reducing the risk of chronic disease

  • Brief Overview and Highlights:
    • A number of research studies including a new study published online in the peer-reviewed publication Nature, suggest that higher protein diets not only help with satiety but may help with long-term weight loss. Subjects in this study who consumed 5.4 percent more energy from protein compared to the control/non-protein group were not only able to lose weight, but also kept it off for six months compared to the control/non-protein group.
    • Another study published in the journal, OpenHeart, suggests that a healthy, balanced diet including high-quality proteins such as beef may be more effective than a diet that restricts fat below 30 percent of daily calories.
  • Looking to Beef Up Your Plate?
    • Consuming protein throughout the day (rather than at one meal)—may benefit your overall health and well-being. In fact, evidence shows that it’s important to consume protein throughout the day (at all meals and snacks) to meet your needs, improve satiety and preserve lean muscle mass.
    • Research also suggests that eating protein consistently throughout the day helps protect against muscle loss while you’re dieting.
    • Space out your protein throughout the day. Try a beef and egg wrap for breakfast or a salad with lean ground beef for lunch. A lean cut, such as strip steak, can provide for a delicious dinner. Check out this infographic or these tips to try to space protein throughout your day.

At the end of the day, there are a variety of ways to build your plate to fit your individual diet and lifestyle needs. Rather than taking a one-size fits all approach to your diet, talk with a registered dietitian about your individual lifestyle and nutrition needs, and how beef can be part of your plate.

What do Justin Bieber, Bill Clinton and Ozzy Osbourne All Have in Common?

They all dropped meat from their diet, but went back after noticing changes in energy and health.

A nutritious-diet is one of the most important factors in maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle. It is important to listen to your body and identify the nutrients that are needed, including many of the nutrients found in beef. Some celebrities have tried limiting or removing animal-proteins from their diets but have returned after experiencing declining health while on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Country Style RoastAnne Hathaway famously made her “health rebuttal” when she returned to a diet including meat. The actress was known to sustain a completely vegan diet, even serving a full vegan menu at her wedding.

Hathaway stated that her vegan diet had taken toll on her health, revealing that she felt tired and weak while filming Interstellar. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “I didn’t feel good or healthy,” but said that after adding protein back she “just felt better.”

Hathaway isn’t the only celebrity to embrace the health benefits of animal-based protein…

For his 30th wedding anniversary, former President Bill Clinton received the gift that keeps on giving; a healthy diet. His wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, consulted with Dr. Mark Hyman to provide her husband advice on a more nutritious, healthy diet.

The first recommendation Dr. Hyman had for Former President Clinton: discontinue his vegan lifestyle. Dr. Hyman explained how fish and lean protein are an important part of a healthy diet, even suggesting the Clintons carry beef jerky as a snack. Beef is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and zinc and a good source of iron – just a 3-ounce serving of lean beef contains 25 grams of protein all for about 150 calories. The vegan diet often lacks important nutrients that other sources of protein readily provide, because many of these necessary nutrients are often not available in plant-based protein sources.

The New York Times called it “The Clinton Cleanse,” known to emphasize mostly gluten-free whole foods, proteins and natural fats. Though President Bill Clinton raised eyebrows when he gave up his vegan lifestyle to return to a high protein diet, he made a commitment to putting his health first.

Anne Hathaway and President Bill Clinton aren’t alone. Ozzy Osbourne, Rachel McAdams and even Justin Bieber returned to a diet including meat, after reporting changes in energy and attitude. A reporter from Pennsylvania recently chronicled his experience going back to eating meat from veganism; stating that his first bite into his steak “couldn’t have been more perfect.”

A recent study by the Humane Research Council found that 84 percent of vegetarians and vegans return to eating meat. Why did they turn back? A full 35 percent of participants indicated that declining health was the main reason they reverted back to eating meat – just like Hathaway and Clinton.

Are beef quality grades and eating satisfaction declining? No. The fact is that overall beef quality grades have steadily improved over the past 20 years.

Myth: Beef quality grades and eating satisfaction are on the decline.

The Facts: The entire beef community is committed to raising the highest-quality beef possible and consistently providing people with a good beef eating experience. Let’s discuss beef quality.

What is Quality Beef?

[Read more…]

Is meat consumption out of control, and is it making us unhealthy?

Myth: Meat consumption is too high, and this overconsumption is leading to increased health problems.

There seems to be a lot of talk about the rise of beef consumption in Americans’ diets and suggestions that this is leading to health issues. You may wonder if we have too much meat on our plates or if a vegetarian diet is the healthier way to go?

The Facts: Contrary to popular belief, protein consumption has remained consistent over the past 40 years. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s report says it all: [Read more…]

How do vegetarian diets stack up against diets including lean meat?

Myth: Vegetarian diets are healthier than diets that include meat

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 5% of American adults consider themselves to be vegetarians. However,  vegetarian diets are a frequent topic of conversation in the news and in daily conversations. With all the chatter about vegetarianism, you may want to find out if vegetarian diets really are healthier than diets that include meat.

The Facts: Experts agree that the healthiest diets include a balance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and moderate portions of nutrient-dense lean meat and skinless poultry. In fact, there are some risks associated with vegetarian diets that don’t ensure adequate intake of important nutrients. A recent Glamour article notes a plant-based diet, plus lean meats and fish, is the diet that will make you feel your best.

Learn more about how incorporating lean meat, like beef, into your diet can ensure good health: [Read more…]

What’s going on with the school breakfast and lunch program?

For the first time in more than 15 years, there have been major changes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National School Lunch and Breakfast Program standards. This has sparked a lot of discussion about the food kids eat at school and whether the new standards are providing adequate amounts of protein and calories.

Below is a Q&A with Shalene McNeill, Ph.D., RD, and Executive Director of Human Nutrition Research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a Contractor to the Beef Checkoff.

What are the new school breakfast and lunch guidelines?

[Read more…]

Top ten reasons to eat beef. Because if you didn’t…

1. Over one million farms and ranches could go out of business, most of them small family owned or operated businesses. The ripple effect could devastate communities throughout rural America.

2. The U.S. economy would lose over $80 billion in added value contributed by all red meat (primarily beef and pork).

3. The country’s economy would lose $4.08 billion in export value from beef alone.

[Read more…]

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