Really? Beef? An all-star food? Why, yes! For many years the mainstream media and our doctors drilled into our head the notion that red meat raises cholesterol and causes heart disease. Fortunately a great deal of new research is disproving this theory. When it comes from a healthy, happy cow and is consumed in moderation, beef offers a whole range of nutrients and is a prized source of healthy fats and high quality protein.
Beef is a rich source of B vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6 and B-12. These vitamins play a central role in converting your food into energy and also support the immune system, hormone health, general development and the functioning of the nervous system. Beef is especially rich in B-12 which is important for red blood cell formation, neurological functioning and lowering homocysteine levels which can actually decrease your risk of heart disease! [I]
An Important Source of Iron
For the women out there, have you ever had a massive craving for a burger during your menstrual cycle? I'm sure I'm not the only one! Red meat is one of the best sources of heme iron. This is the form of iron that is absorbed and utilized by the body much more efficiently than the form that is found within plants; non-heme iron. Iron is vital for retaining energy and is especially important for menstruating or pregnant women, and children.
A Zinc Boost
Beef is a great source of zinc, which helps to boost and maintain the immune system, as well as help to regulate hormone productions and support digestion.
What About the Fat?
While reading this, you may be wondering if those shady saturated fats nullify all the good nutrients in beef. No way! In moderation, saturated fats actually support the body. Saturated fats help the body to feel full, which means a person doesn't tend to overeat when consuming them. That's how "comfort food" got its name! Plus, there is no reliable research that proves saturated fats raises cholesterol levels or makes one more at risk for issues such as coronary heart disease. [II]
We are pretty trusting that olive oil is healthy for us, right? Well beef also contains that same type of fat! This mono-unsaturated fat can actually improve cholesterol levels and lower your risk for heart disease. Plus, if a cow has been grass-fed, it will typically have higher levels of these heart-healthy essential fatty acids.
Protein for Power
Without protein, a person will literally starve their body. Human bodies need protein for healthy muscles, blood, bones, hormones and the basic structure of cells. Beef is very clearly a great source of protein. Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of protein, and exercising, is the best way to stay fit and trim.
Good Beef Decisions
Be sure to choose organic, local, grass fed beef to avoid the contaminants given to conventional cows such as antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically engineered corn. If anything, at least choose organic. While it may not be the best quality money can buy, it is still an immensely better decision than conventional animal protein. Choosing organic is also a good way to ensure you are avoiding "pink slime" or "meat glue" which can be hidden in products found in supermarkets or restaurants. Double yuck!
So choose the high quality beef and you will be doing yourself and your family a whole lot of good. Plus, that comforting family recipe for a classic beef stew will taste all the better!
[I] Saposnik G, Ray JG, Sheridan P, McQueen M, Lonn E. “Homocysteine-lowering therapy and stroke risk, severity, and disability: additional findings from the HOPE 2 trial”. Stroke. 2009 Apr;40(4):1365-72. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA. 108.529503. Epub 2009 Feb 19. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19228852?dopt=Abstract>
[II] Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. "Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease." Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648?dopt=AbstractPlus>.