By Laura Stobb
In a society where food prices are on the rise and nutrition is on the downfall, it seems like we are either starving ourselves on the latest diet trend or feeling guilty getting our car load of kids dinner at a fast food drive-thru. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many good options for healthy eating. In fact, contrary to many misconceptions about the beef industry, beef producers are continuing to work hard and provide a safe, wholesome, and nutritious product at an affordable price.
I find it surprising how many consumers label beef as “unhealthy” when it actually provides many important nutrients that are often lacking in our diets. A three ounce serving provides almost half of the recommended daily amount of protein. That three ounce serving of lean beef provides the same amount of protein as one and a half cups of black beans but has only half the calories. Beef is also an excellent source of zinc, iron, and B vitamins, all of which are commonly lacking in American diets. These important nutrients are found much more abundantly in beef than in other meat sources such as chicken as well as in much greater quantities than in plant matter along with being in a more readily absorbed form that is used much more efficiently by the body.
For those who are concerned about weight issues, beef is a great option. There are 29 cuts of certified lean beef and as long as consumed in the recommended three ounce serving size beef has been proven to help lower cholesterol, prevent chronic diseases including type two diabetes, and lower weight when accompanied with an active lifestyle.
Beef is a great choice for children’s nutrition as well. The zinc, iron, and B vitamins promote cognitive development and the protein helps them to grow while keeping them full and satisfied longer than sugary alternatives. Beef is also important to seniors’ diets as it slows the loss of muscle mass.
I know that many families are on tight food budgets, but that does not rule out having beef for dinner. There are many affordable options including many recipes with ground beef (hamburger), and cuts from the chuck (front shoulder area) including chuck roasts, shoulder roasts, blade steak, and flat iron steak. Cuts from the plate and flank (area around the belly) are also very affordable. Usually the cheaper cuts of meat are less tender because they come from muscles that are used more often. However, this also causes them to have increased flavor and with slow or wet cooking methods they will be tender when served. When looking for a lower cost steak, cuts from the sirloin are a great option.
Whatever your budget and nutritional needs may be, beef is a very satisfying option to have on the dinner table at home.
Laura Stobb is from Mille Lacs County and is a Minnesota Beef ambassador.