Amy Pollick | Wealth of Geeks
Beef is a popular food. A quick Google search for “beef recipes” produces 830 million results. Although many health professionals recommend people cut beef from their diets, it does provide many nutritional benefits.
According to WebMD, beef is a good source of iron, zinc, and protein, all essential nutrients for a healthy diet. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service recommends eating no more than 70 grams, or about 2.5 ounces, of beef or processed meats daily.
Preparation Is Key
Beef choice and preparation are crucial to keeping it in a healthy diet. WebMD recommends cooks choose lean cuts of beef and trim the fat before cooking. They should also look for cuts labeled “lean” or “extra lean.”
Opt for roasting or broiling meat rather than frying. Marinating a lean cut adds flavor and tenderness when cooked, making it an appealing option.
Beef lends itself to recipes that also include vegetables and other healthy foods. Pot roast is a perennially popular meal that appears on American tables, paired with potatoes, carrots, onion, and celery.
What About Ground Beef?
Ground beef is a popular, cost-effective meat choice in the United States. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association report the ground beef market was $11 billion in 2022 — up 9% from 2020-2021. With the availability of lower fat ground round, it’s easier now to include in a healthy diet.
Ground beef is clearly labeled with its fat content, so shoppers can see what they’re buying at a glance. The downside is that a leaner ground round is more expensive, a possible deterrent for shoppers during inflation or on a budget.
The Beef Board estimates about 44% of Americans generally buy 80%-89% lean ground beef rather than choosing the 90/10 or 95/5 options.
Because it’s cheaper per pound and lower in saturated fat and calories, many people prefer to buy ground turkey or chicken for their recipes that call for ground beef. It generally substitutes 1:1 for ground beef, and many cooks say it’s indistinguishable from beef in flavorful recipes like spaghetti and chili.
There’s still hope for those who don’t want to eliminate beef from their diets but do want healthier recipes. Google agrees, with 282 million search results for the term “healthy beef recipes.”
Many websites, including Better Homes & Gardens, advise cooks to use less beef in a recipe, a leaner cut and extend it with vegetables. Their recipes substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes for higher fiber content and add green vegetables like Brussels sprouts, green beans, and spinach to raise the nutritional value. An added bonus is dishes like these may encourage picky eaters to try more veggies in their diets if they’re camouflaged in meat dishes.
Creative chefs can also use beef in other healthy applications like salads. Asian-inspired recipes like lettuce wraps and beef and broccoli or broiled/roasted beef with vegetables like zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms can also be a part of a healthy diet.
Is Beef a Dietary Villain?
The jury is still out on whether beef is genuinely unhealthy or if it can be safely consumed in moderation. The T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University funded a study that indicates red meat consumption leads to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Xiao Gu, one of the study’s co-authors, explains, “Our findings strongly support dietary guidelines that recommend limiting the consumption of red meat, and this applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat.”
On the other hand, the Obesity Research Journal published a study funded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, where researchers found those with Type 2 diabetes who consume a higher-protein diet including beef showed weight loss as well as better blood sugar control.
James Hill, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Nutrition Sciences, and director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center, co-authored the Obesity Research Journal study. He says, “…Beef is a preferred protein food for many Americans, and we know people are more likely to maintain a healthy diet if it is also satisfying and enjoyable. This long-term, clinical intervention study shows people can enjoy fresh lean beef four or more times a week, as part of higher protein diets that effectively support weight loss and manage type 2 diabetes.”
Scientists do agree that eating lean beef is preferable, and it should be consumed in moderation. Look for recipes that include other healthy ingredients like vegetables. With all the meal options for beef, those who want to include it in their diets do have healthy options. It’s all about being aware of what they’re buying and how they’re cooking it.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.