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Beef Can Be Part of a Heart Healthy Diet

You may think you have to cut out red meat entirely if you want to eat a heart-healthy diet. However, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that healthy diets can include red meat and still be heart-friendly.

For many years red meat such as beef has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and doctors and dieticians have recommended cutting down on beef consumption or eliminating it entirely if you are at high risk for heart disease.

What has been controversial about this judgment of beef is that most of these studies that say it is bad for your heart health failed to take into consideration other diet and lifestyle choices that people engage in alongside red meat consumption. 

For example, many studies combined both “fresh” and processed meats together when evaluating meat consumption and health. Processed red meats have a very different nutrient profile than fresh meat. Processed meat products are much higher in sodium and saturated fat than natural lean beef products.

Jennifer Fleming, Ph.D., assistant teaching professor of nutrition at Penn State and one of the authors of the new study, says, “when you create a healthy diet built on fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, it leaves room for moderate amounts of other foods like lean beef.”

The keys to incorporating beef into a healthy diet is choosing the right cuts of meat, consuming appropriate amounts, and pairing it with other nutrient-rich foods. 

When choosing beef, look for lean or extra-lean and select cuts with minimal visible fat. Look for “loin” or “round” in the name, such as sirloin or tenderloin, top or bottom round, or eye of round.

Choose the lowest percentage of fat when selecting ground beef, said Fleming.

While lean beef is considered nutrient-rich, it is only one of many healthy protein choices. To better understand red meat’s place in the Mediterranean eating pattern, imagine protein foods listed on a continuum. In this protein choice continuum, the best protein choices are beans, fish, white-meat, poultry, and eggs.

Lean cuts of beef, pork, and lamb are next on the continuum and are better choices than dark-meat poultry and other high-fat meats. Highly processed meats are at the end of the continuum and should be greatly limited or eliminated from the diet.

When choosing foods, remember the importance of balance, variety, and moderation. 

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1 comment

Susan March 8, 2023 at 1:32 pm

How about grass fed beef, its better then mass produced!!

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