Beef has an abundance of nutrients like B-vitamins, zinc, iron and protein and comes in such a delicious package with relatively few calories. Among the many delicious benefits you get from enjoying lean beef, one of the most remarkable is its role in supporting health. Read more about beef and health.
Lean beef helps support a strong body by providing important nutrients to build and replenish muscles. Among all the muscles in your body, your heart is arguably the most important. Diet and exercise are the cornerstones for building a strong and healthy heart. A heart-healthy diet is one that includes an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein.
Studies show that eating lean beef, as part of a balanced diet, supports healthy blood pressure and blood lipids.1-3 A diet lower in sodium and higher in potassium and lean protein helps lower blood pressure.4 Beef is a leading source of potassium in the U.S. diet and is estimated to contribute only 1% of sodium intake.5,6 Research also shows that partially replacing carbohydrates in the diet with protein could be a useful strategy for the prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.7
Despite misconceptions to the contrary, beef contributes 10 percent or less of saturated fat and total fat in the American diet.6 Approximately one-third of beef’s saturated fat is stearic acid, the same fat recognized as beneficial in chocolate for its neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels.8-11 Beef is also a primary source of monounsaturated fat in the diet, the same type of healthy fat found in avocados and olive oil.8,12 With this in mind, it isn’t surprising that a number of clinical studies consistently demonstrate that consuming 4-5.5 ounces of lean beef as part of a heart-healthy diet, even daily, can contribute to overall healthful dietary patterns and improved markers for health.1-3,13
Reducing cancer risk requires a total lifestyle approach, which includes eating a balanced diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. It is difficult to study the diet and its effects on cancer because humans consume many food components in their total diet that may both protect against and increase their risk of cancer.14-16 Observational studies suggest that dietary components may be associated, but not responsible for increasing cancer risk, and this association could differ between subjects with and without cancer. Although clinical trials are necessary to test whether there is a causal effect between a specific food component and increase or decrease in cancer risk, for ethical reasons, these studies are generally not conducted.14
Emphasizing or eliminating any one food or nutrient does not eliminate one’s risk for disease, and doing so could lead to unintended consequences, such as nutrient gaps. Americans are, on average, currently consuming red and processed meat within the amounts recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, therefore, for most people, balance needs to come from swapping refined grains and empty calories for whole grains and vegetables.17-18 Beef contains high-quality protein, iron and zinc which strengthen a balanced diet and are a perfect complement to the nutrients found in plant foods.6,8
For more inspiration and ideas, check out our collection of heart-healthy recipes.