Is Beef Healthy?
Beef is categorized as red meat, a term used for the meat of mammals. It contains relatively higher amounts of iron than fish and chicken. People usually eat beef as ribs, roasts, or steaks. A number of people like their beef minced. You may also find patties of ground beef in hamburgers. There are also processed beef products like sausages, beef jerky, and corned beef.
Beef is primarily composed of protein and fat. Fresh, lean beef contains lots of vitamins and minerals, particularly zinc and iron. Nutritionists recommend moderate consumption of beef as part of a healthy diet.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they are highly essential. Meat is one of the most complete dietary sources of protein, and it contains amino acids that are almost identical to that of the human muscles. This is why people are advised to eat lots of meat after undergoing surgery. The same applies to recovering athletes, as it helps maintain and build muscle mass.
Beef is rich in fat, which is also called beef tallow. It adds flavor to it and increases its calorie content. There are various factors that determine the amount of fat in beef; some of these factors are the animal’s age, breed, and gender, as well as the level of trimming. Sausages, salami, and other processed meat products are high in fat.
Beef also contains saturated and monounsaturated fat in equal amounts. Its major fatty acids are palmitic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid.
What`s more? Beef is rich in vitamin B12, which is required for blood formation and proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Let’s discuss the health benefits of beef in detail.
3 Health Benefits of Beef
Maintains Muscle Mass
Here’s why we say beef is a complete protein: it contains all the essential amino acids that your body requires.
Inadequate protein levels cause age-related muscle wasting and may increase your risk of sarcopenia, a severe health issue among older adults.
Improved Exercise Performance
Carnosine is an essential compound for muscle function. It is formed in the body from beta-alanine, a dietary amino acid that is present in beef in high amounts. Moderate consumption of beef can improve strength running time.
Anemia is usually a result of a decreased number of red blood cells and reduced ability of the blood to carry oxygen. Iron deficiency is a major cause of anemia. Good news! Beef is rich in iron, particularly heme iron, which is only present in animal-derived foods.
The body absorbs heme iron better than non-heme iron which is common in plant-derived foods. Moderate consumption of beef will keep anemia at bay.
8 Health Risks of Consuming Beef
Risk of Heart Disease
Beef contains saturated fat which increases your risk of heart disease by raising cholesterol levels in your blood. If you eat beef often, you should consider choosing lean meat because it has positive effects on cholesterol levels.
Risk of Cancer
Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer all over the world. High meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. This is due to some of its components such as heme iron and heterocyclic amines. Heterocyclic amines are a family of carcinogenic substances that are formed during high-temperature cooking of animal protein, particularly during baking, grilling, and frying. They are also present in well-done and overcooked meat, poultry, and fish. Some studies claim that women who eat well-done meat often are at an increased risk of breast cancer.
Increased Amounts of Tapeworm
The beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata) is an intestinal parasite that can be as long as 13–33 feet. It’s more common in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The main cause of the tapeworm is consuming raw or undercooked beef. Beef tapeworm infection usually doesn’t cause symptoms, however, severe infection may result in abdominal pain, weight loss, and nausea.
Because beef is one of the richest dietary sources of iron, it may cause iron overload for some people. The most common cause of iron overload is hereditary hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder that occurs as a result of excessive absorption of iron from food. Excessive iron accumulation can have life-threatening effects, as it may lead to liver issues, cancer, and heart disease. People with hemochromatosis are advised to limit their consumption of beef and lamb.
Consuming red meat in high quantities may put one at risk for age-related macular degeneration, which is a major cause of blindness among older Americans. The eye risk may be as a result of the saturated fat in red meat. This fat is harmful to the tiny blood vessels in the eyes. Processed meat also contains some chemicals such as nitrosamines that may harm the eyes.
The gut bacteria have an essential impact on overall health, and they require complex carbohydrates to grow. Such carbs would usually come from fruit fiber, vegetables, and whole grains. High-protein diets are low in these foods and may affect gut bacteria if you don`t consume balanced diets.
Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Studies have shown that the accumulation of the proteins, Tau, and beta-amyloid in the brain may lead to a disruption or outright death of nerve cells, and this may cause Alzheimer’s disease. More recent studies show that iron accumulation, too, can pose the same problem. Red meat, you know, is full of iron, and as a result, may put people who consume it excessively at risk of Alzheimer`s disease.
Eating too much meat can make you feel tired, particularly if you don`t digest it properly. It puts some stress on the digestive system and as a result, causes fatigue.
Grain-Fed and Grass-Fed Beef: Any Difference?
The nutritional value of meat depends largely on what the source animal fed on. Back in the day, most cattle in Western countries were grass-fed, however, these days, many feed on grain.
Compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef has a higher antioxidant content. It also has higher amounts of vitamin E and lower amounts of fat. That`s not all, as it has higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These, among other features, make grass-fed beef a healthier choice than grain-fed.
Some Beef Facts
- There are more than 800,000 ranchers and cattle producers in the United States.
- One-third of all U.S. farms and ranches include cattle.
- People raise beef cattle in all 50 states in the United States.
- The top five states with the most beef cows are Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
- The U.S. is the world’s largest beef producer, followed by Brazil.
- Over 76 million Americans eat beef every day, consuming, on average, 112 pounds of beef per year.
- 70% of foodservice operators say that they have more sales when there`s steak on the menu.
- One cowhide can make 18 soccer balls.
- Some medical products such as insulin and drugs used to help the body accept organ transplants are made from cattle.
Now that you Know…
You`re sure ready to eat your beef without compromising your health. Beef is highly nutritious and loaded with healthy fats, healthy proteins, vitamins, and minerals, that affect bodily functions positively. Fortunately, there are various ways to prepare beef. Enjoy your beef, remembering that moderation is key.