It’s hot outside and people are grilling! You can smell the steaks on the “barbie” cooking away as you drive down the street at any given dinnertime during the summer months. Do you wonder if you should indulge if you’re watching your weight or concerned about heart-health? Let’s take a closer look at this…
As a protein source, beef is better than most plant proteins. It contains far more protein than common plant proteins like quinoa or peanut butter when you compare it calorie for calorie. When eating plant foods, you have to consume more calories in order to obtain the same protein intake. This can be important for folks who are counting calories in order to maintain a healthy body weight.
4. The predominant fat in beef is monounsaturated fat. Believe it or not, most of the fat in today’s beef is monounsaturated. In fact, beef only accounts for 10 percent or less of the saturated fat in the typical American diet. Monounsaturated fat is a type of “healthy fat” found in olive oils and is considered an important component of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Only 5 percent of the fat found in beef is polyunsaturated – the fat that most cardiologists and nutrition experts suggest we get from eating nuts and fish.
Putting Red Meat in Perspective – What Does It Mean to Us?
- Today’s beef is leaner than ever before, and patients can eat lean cuts as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Look for loin or round when purchasing meat in the grocery store, and always read labels on ground beef and choose at least 90 percent lean.
- Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that eating a modest serving of beef (4 to 5.5 ounces) of lean beef can support heart health as part of a comprehensive strategy to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. This means adding portions of red meat to our diet can actually help lower cholesterol and maintain better blood pressure control. With any food and beverage choices we make, the key is moderation and portion control. It is also important to spread protein intake throughout the day – protein of some sort should be included in every meal.
- When we add variety to our diet, we can be more successful, and compliance with a healthy lifestyle increases. Lean beef can add variety to our diet. Diets that are based on restriction and exclusion are doomed to failure. Set reasonable goals and expectations in order to maximize your chances for success when making lifestyle and dietary changes.
- Beef is nutrient dense, and over half the fats in beef are monounsaturated. Data has made it clear that beef is an excellent source of protein and contains 10 vital nutrients, including selenium, iron and zinc. Beef can and should be a part of an overall healthy diet.
Just as with any type of lifestyle modification, we cannot focus only on one aspect in order to achieve better health. We must consider exercise, diet and smoking cessation as critical components to reducing our risk for heart disease. Moderation and variety are the keys to success when making dietary changes. When it comes to our diet, we must continue to focus on healthy fruits and vegetables, but we should also make sure to incorporate multiple servings of protein – from a variety of sources.
If you have any dietary questions or concerns, please discuss with your physician, or make an appointment with HeartCare’s Samantha Radin: Samantha is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietitian- Nutritionist specializing in healthy weight management and medical nutrition therapy.