Should I Eat Less Red Meat for a Healthy Diet?

BBQ steak on a stick with pineapple salsa

Lean beef can be part of a healthy diet

Myth: The new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating less red meat, like beef.

Fact: Actually, the new guidelines reaffirm the role of lean beef in a healthy diet and confirm that Americans are, on average, consuming fresh, lean red meat (which includes lean beef) at levels consistent with the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. The new Dietary Guidelines are good news for beef lovers!

It’s also important to keep in mind that the Dietary Guidelines are just that: guidelines. They are not prescriptions. The recommendations for protein vary widely based on age and gender and are for people who get less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Your needs may vary significantly from another family member’s. For example:

  • A growing teenage boy who is active in a variety of sports may need more protein for optimal performance and health compared to an older sedentary person.
  • A young, first time mother who is nursing a child or running after a toddler may need more protein to nourish herself compared to a middle-aged adult woman who doesn’t have as many family demands.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that one size does not fit all, so we all need to find ways to meet our protein and nutritional needs while using these recommendations as a baseline.

Just as we are all different, not all meat is the same. The new Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans choose lean proteins. While you may not think of beef as lean, there are now 38 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean, including some of America’s favorite cuts like sirloin steak and 95% lean ground beef.

You may have also heard the Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming a plant-based diet. Does that mean we should cut back on meat? Not necessarily. Most Americans do not need to change how much beef they enjoy, but we all should be mindful of balancing our diets. Many of us would benefit from eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with but we can do this by choosing empty calorie foods less often. Even teen boys and adult males, who do tend to eat more total protein, are not approaching the upper end of the acceptable range for protein outlined in the Dietary Guidelines.

Lean beef is a wholesome, nutrient-rich food that helps you get back to the basics of healthy eating. A single 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 10 essential nutrients in about 150 calories – including nutrients like iron, zinc and B vitamins that are critical for development and optimal health throughout life.

So how much red meat should you consume? This protein calculator estimates your suggested protein intake based on height, weight, age, gender and level of physical activity. Americans with special dietary needs or who are looking for individual advice about how to build a healthy diet with lean beef may want to seek the advice of a Registered Dietitian or their personal physician.

 

4 BOLD Reasons Lean Beef Supports Your New Year’s Resolutions

When planning and implementing your New Year’s Resolutions for this year it’s important to stack the deck in your favor, to increase the likelihood of your success. Many have found great success enjoying beef as a top source of lean protein and essential nutrients. Here are 4 BOLD reasons to include lean beef (and its many benefits) in your diet in 2016 and beyond!

  1. Lean beef satisfies a heart healthy dietLean beef steaks with pineapple glaze

Multiple research papers published from Penn State University Clinical Nutrition Research Center on the BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) study have shown that a heart healthy diet, including lean beef daily, leads to simultaneous reductions in a variety of risk factors for heart disease including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (often called ‘bad cholesterol’), and blood pressure.

  1. Today’s beef is a satisfying lean protein choice to support your weight loss goals

Protein plays an extremely important role in weight loss, and lean beef is equipped to provide you all the research-proven benefits. Research shows that protein rich food like lean beef may help increase feelings of fullness and control cravings, while also packing the ideal levels of a key compound called leucine, which helps your body build calorie burning muscle.

  1. Lean beef is packed with nutrients you need, not excessive calories that you don’t

Calorie for calorie, it is hard to beat all the nutrients you get from a single serving of lean beef. When you are watching and reducing your calorie intake to aid in your weight loss efforts, it can be hard to get all the nutrients that your body needs to stay nourished and energized. Just a 3oz serving of lean beef contains 10% or more of your daily needs of all these essential nutrients – protein (48%), zinc (36%), vitamin B12 (44%), selenium (40%), phosphorus (19%), niacin (26%), Vitamin B6 (22%), iron (12%), riboflavin (10%) and choline (16%).¹

  1. With so many flavorful ways to prepare lean beef, you can keep your diet exciting and fresh

A major downfall of “healthy diets” is the doom and gloom associated with their bland menus. Lean beef brings the variety and flavors that you love with the health punch your body needs. Don’t relinquish your taste buds to bland proteins and steamed vegetables when you can enjoy dishes like beef chili, fajitas, and sweet potato hash.

¹ USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

Red meat and health. Get the facts.

Myth:  There are many dangers associated with consuming red meat and health, including increased risk for heart disease and higher cholesterol.

The Facts: Red meat and health go hand-in-hand. Eating red meat daily can help lower cholesterol as part of a heart-healthy diet.

The latest research on red meat and health shows that a diet that includes lean beef every day is a part of a heart-healthy diet that is as effective in lowering total and LDL “bad” cholesterol as the gold standard heart-healthy diet (according to DASH – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Here’s what you should know about red meat and health: [Read more…]

Beta-agonists, Zilmax and Optaflexx, and Cattle: How Targeted Use Results in Leaner Beef

Myth: Beta-agonists cause cattle to grow unnaturally large and are bad for my health.

The Facts: Zilmax and Optaflexx, which are beta-agonists, are animal feed ingredients that help cattle make the most of the food they eat resulting in more lean muscle instead of fat. They have been proven safe for cattle and humans.

Cattle farmers use these feed additives in targeted ways, only adding small amounts to the animals’ feed at a specific time in their lives. They are metabolized quickly by cattle so they are not stored in the body over time. Beta-agonists are approved for use in the United States, Canada and two dozen other countries across the developed world.

Get the top five facts behind beta-agonists in cattle:

1. What are beta-agonists and what do they do? A beta-agonist is simply a feed ingredient given to some cattle to help the animals make the most of the food they eat (ractopamine and zilpaterol are examples of beta agonists approved for use in cattle). When cattle are young, they use their food to build muscle, but as they age they begin to instead put on more fat. Beta-agonists help cattle maintain their natural muscle-building ability, resulting in the leaner beef that consumers demand.

2. How and why are they used? Beta-agonists, a feed additive, can be used as part of a healthy, balanced diet for cattle according to label guidelines. The decision to use this feed ingredient is an individual one that every farmer/rancher/feedyard manager makes in consultation with their veterinarian and animal nutritionist.

  • Many factors guide the decision to use beta-agonists, including type and condition of cattle, customer expectations (yield and quality grades), as well as leanness, weather or seasonal conditions, which may affect cattle health and growth.
  • A farm’s environmental goals are also considered because these feed ingredients reduce the farm’s demand on natural resources like land, water, feed and fuel.

Feedyard owner and operator Anne Burkholder of Cozad, Nebraska explains beta-agonists and why she chooses to use them.

3. Do they harm the animal? Animal welfare is a top priority. All animal health products are reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to use in animals to ensure there are no adverse impacts on animal health. Caring for their animals and making sure they grow healthfully is important to the people who raise cattle. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is in the farmers’ and ranchers’ best interest, too. It’s as simple as this – healthy animals produce high-quality meat.

  • In a feedyard, professional cowboys called “pen riders” ride horseback among their cattle to observe the health of every animal daily to make sure they are getting the care they need.

4. How do I know they are safe? All products used in food animals must go through dozens of studies and be shown to be safe for both animals and humans before approval by the FDA.

In the case of beta-agonists, hundreds of studies have been done. But the evaluation does not stop there.  After animal health products are approved, they are continuously monitored to improve their performance and how they are used. And, since beta-agonists are metabolized quickly by cattle, they aren’t stored in the body over time.

  • The safety of meat from animals fed ractopamine (a beta-agonist) has been affirmed by 28 regulatory bodies, including the international food standards body Codex Alimentarius Commission, which was created by the World Health Organization.
  • The U.S. Food Safety and Inspective Service (FSIS) routinely tests meat to ensure its safety.

5. Do beta-agonist fed cattle still produce quality beef? Yes. Today’s beef increasingly meets consumer expectations for a great-tasting meal. The entire beef community is committed to raising the highest-quality beef possible and consistently providing people with great-tasting beef. Learn more about how beef quality is measured.

  • Over the past 20 years, overall beef quality grades (such as Prime or Choice) have steadily improved, thanks to cattle genetics, the way cattle are fed and proper cattle handling to prevent stress.

If you prefer beef from cattle that was not fed a beta-agonist, there are great beef choices available for you in the grocery store. Products labeled USDA organic or “naturally-raised” would not have received any growth promoting product like a beta-agonist. Regardless of the type of beef you choose, you can feel confident that it’s safe, delicious and nutritious.

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.

 

 

 

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…]

Are Meatless Mondays better for me and the environment?

Myth: Participating in Meatless Mondays is a simple step I can take to improve my own health and the health of our planet.

With Meatless Mondays conversations swirling in the news, you may wonder if eating vegetarian meals one day a week can actually improve your health and help the environment in the process. But you might be surprised to find out the reported benefits of Meatless Mondays may not live up to the promise. The Facts: Meat, and beef in particular, is good for you AND good for the planet. In fact, eating vegetarian meals isn’t a shortcut to saving the planet or eating healthy and may actually do more harm than good. Research shows that the healthiest diets include moderate portions of nutrient-rich meat and poultry. Contrary to Meatless Monday campaign claims, beef is both environmentally and nutritionally efficient – cattle farming requires less land, water and energy than in the past and provides 10 essential nutrients to your diet. Here are some common questions people ask when it comes to Meatless Mondays: [Read more…]

Is grass-finished or grain-finished beef better?

Many news articles make the incorrect assumption that grass-fed beef is better for you than grain-fed beef. Here, we address ten common claims about grass-fed versus grain-fed.

1. Incorrect Claim: Grass-fed animals don’t need antibiotics.

Fact: All antibiotic use contributes to resistance in some way. The real question is whether it’s impacting public health. Multiple studies have reviewed whether antibiotic use in cattle production causes an increased risk to consumers by developing antibiotic-resistant foodborne or other pathogens, and none have found a connection. (Journal of Food Protection, July 2004; Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2003). Some cattle receive a class of antibiotics known as ionophores that promote the good bacteria in the rumen and help cattle better digest and use their food (kind of like a probiotic). The World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) agree ionophores are not important to human medicine.

2. Incorrect Claim: Perennial grasses are better for soil.

[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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