What You Miss Without Nutrient-Rich Lean Beef

MISSION, KS — Looking for healthy and tasty meal options your entire family will enjoy? Finding delicious, yet healthful solutions for your family may be as close as your grocer's meat case. Surprised? You may not realize all you miss when you don't include meat in your diet. Beef is a high-quality protein that can help you get more nutrition from your calories, without sacrificing taste.

What's all this about high-quality protein, you ask? The fact is, not all foods contain the same type of protein. Lean meats, eggs and dairy products are considered complete, high-quality sources of protein because they provide the full package of essential amino acids that your body needs to stimulate muscle growth and improve weight management. In fact, research indicates that increasing consumption of high-quality proteins may optimize muscle strength and metabolism, and ultimately improve overall health. But plant proteins such as grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are incomplete sources and can't match up to the nutritional benefits of beef protein.

"Choosing lean beef as a source of high-quality protein can be a calorie-saver," said Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD, executive director of nutrition research at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which contracts to manage nutrition programs for the Beef Checkoff. "A three-ounce serving of lean beef, which is about the size of a deck of cards, offers the most protein with the fewest calories when compared to plant proteins such as peanut butter, black beans and tofu. You would need to consume two to three times the calories provided in a serving of beef to get an equivalent amount of protein from a veggie burger."

But protein isn't lean beef's only benefit. It's also a nutrient-rich source of several important vitamins and minerals. In fact, you might call lean beef nature's best tasting multivitamin — just one three-ounce serving is a good or excellent source of 10 essential vitamins and minerals including protein, zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, choline, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin. What's more, there are 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean and have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.

Want more great news? Lean beef is affordable, easy to find and a complete recipe for better health. According to recent data, nearly two-thirds of Americans buy cuts of meat that are considered "lean" when they shop for food, which isn't surprising given that the 29 lean cuts include some of Americans' favorites like flank steak, tenderloin, T-bone steak and 95 percent lean ground beef.

Choosing lean beef can help keep your grocery bill lean too. Many of the lean cuts that are popular for everyday cooking, such as those from the round and loin, are comparably priced to other retail cuts. Among the leanest and most popular, the round cuts are incredibly affordable, with an average retail cost of $3.55 per pound — just 89 cents per 3-ounce serving.

Visit BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com for affordable, nutrient-rich recipes, including the Tenderloin, Cranberry and Pear Salad pictured. (http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/TenderloinCranberryPearSalad.aspx)

Source: The Beef Checkoff Program