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 how much meat Americans are eating and suggestions that this leads 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: the daily caloric contribution of flour and cereal products increased by 193 calories per person from 1970 to 2008, compared to only a 19-calorie increase per person from meat, eggs and nuts during the same period. The average American consumes about 5.1 oz of protein foods each day (i.e. from meat, poultry, egg, fish/seafood, nuts and seeds and soy products) and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an average of 5.5 oz of protein foods daily.

Furthermore, research suggests many Americans could actually benefit from including high-quality protein, such as lean beef, to their diet because of its positive role in weight management, healthy aging and disease prevention.  A nutritionist and health writer for TheNest.com provides a brief overview of the benefits of lean beef consumption in this article.

Read on for the truth about beef consumption, and how consumption of lean meat, including beef, can positively impact Americans’ diets.

Beef Consumption Patterns

  • Beef Consumption and Healthy Eating: Americans are eating beef in a variety of nutritious eating patterns that can meet health outcomes and goals
    • On average, Americans consume 5.1 oz of protein foods each day (i.e., from meat, poultry, egg, fish/seafood, nuts, seeds and soy products). The Dietary Guidelines recommend at least 5.5 oz of protein foods daily. Therefore, Americans are consuming protein foods within the Dietary Guidelines recommendations.
    • According to NHANES data, Americans consume 1.7 oz of beef daily, on average.
  • Saturated fat and cholesterol: Reports indicate that the proportion of total and saturated fat from meat, poultry and fish has slowly declined, according to this report from the USDA.
    • Beef consumption contributes less than 10% of total fat and saturated fat in the American diet, according to NHANES data.
    • You might be surprised to hear that pizza and grain-based desserts contribute more saturated fat to Americans’ diets than beef.
    • About half the fatty acids found in beef are monounsaturated fatty acids, the same heart-healthy kind found in olive oil.
    • Beef consumption contributes less cholesterol to Americans’ diets (11%) compared to chicken (12%) and eggs (25%), according to the Dietary Guidelines.

Beef Consumption and a Healthy Diet

  • Lean Beef's Competitive Advantage_FINAL ARMS 110415-03Lean beef consumption and heart health: Heart health is top of mind for Americans and recent research shows that including lean beef, even daily as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle, improved cholesterol levels.
    • The BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) study demonstrated that when including lean beef to the most recommended heart-healthy diet, it reduced levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol by 10% from baseline when included as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle containing less than 7% of calories from saturated fat. This is just as effective as the DASH diet, which US News & World Report has recognized as “Best Overall Diet” and “Best Diet for Healthy Eating” and is a gold-standard for heart-healthy eating.
    • Good quality evidence from numerous randomized controlled trials consistently demonstrates that consuming 4-5.5 ounces of lean beef daily, as part of a healthful dietary pattern, supports good health.
  • Powerful nutrients: A substantial body of evidence shows lean beef consumption contributes protein, iron and B-vitamins, which can help keep you full and maintain a healthy weight, build muscles and fuel a healthy and active lifestyle.
    • A 3-oz serving of lean beef provides about half (48%) of the Daily Value for protein, according to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, 2015.
    • For more reasons why eating beef can help fuel an active lifestyle by helping conserve energy and build muscles, read this RunnersWorld.com post.
  • Many of America’s favorite cuts of meat are lean. Lean beef cuts all have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 3 ½-oz cooked serving.
    • Today, 66 percent of beef cuts sold at retail are lean (when cooked and trimmed).
    • Thanks to increased trimming practices, the external fat in retail cuts has decreased by 80 percent in the past 20 years.
      • For example, Sirloin Steak contains 34 percent less fat now than it contained in the 1960s
    • Learn more about lean cuts, including many favorites such as Flank Steak, Strip steak and Sirloin Steak.
This images shows the number of beef cuts that meet the USDA guidelines for lean

The beef community has increased the number of lean beef cuts available to consumers over the past several years, which can be part of a healthy dietary pattern.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: