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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: