Beef has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Many people have chosen to cut red meat out of their diets entirely. While it is true that some cuts of beef are high in saturated fat, beef also has a lot of nutritional value. Before you are tempted to eliminate beef from your diet, read on to discover all the nutritional benefits you may be missing out on.
Protein in Beef
Beef is an excellent source of protein. Protein is an essential component of any diet. The body needs it to build muscle, maintain organs and regenerate skin, hair and nails. The protein in beef is a high quality, complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids necessary to be readily utilized by the body. A 3 to 3 ½ ounce serving of beef supplies one third of the daily requirement of protein for men and one half of a woman’s daily requirement.
Minerals in Beef
Beef is a rich source of many minerals including zinc, iron, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium potassium and copper. Minerals are vital for the proper functioning of all the body’s systems. The iron and zinc found in beef is more easily absorbed than vegetable sources of these important minerals.
Vitamins in Beef
Beef is also rich in many vitamins including vitamins B12, B6, riboflavin, thiamin and pantothenic acid. Vegetarians are often deficient in B12. If your diet doesn’t contain any red meat you may require a B12 supplement.
Fat in Beef
Although fat is an essential part of any healthy diet, too much saturated animal fat can contribute to a whole host of health problems. Fortunately there are many lean cuts of beef available to choose from. Round steaks and roasts, sirloin steaks, briskets, chuck roasts and flank steaks are all delicious, lean cuts of beef. Per government guidelines, lean cuts of beef must contain less than 10 grams of total fat, and 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat per 3 ½ ounce serving.
Look for cuts of beef that have a uniform red, color throughout. You should also look for even marbling, small streaks of fat, throughout the cut. This will ensure a juicy, flavorful piece of meat. In addition, it’s important to look for firm cuts of meat that give slightly to pressure. These will likely be fresh cuts of beef. Definitely avoid any rancid or foul smelling cuts of meat.
It’s important to store beef properly to maintain freshness and avoid food borne illness. Beef should be refrigerated or frozen as soon as possible after it’s purchased. Refrigerated beef should be stored in the meat drawer or the coldest part of the refrigerator. You can safely freeze plastic wrapped beef for up to two weeks without the risk of freezer burn. For longer freezing periods, it’s best to wrap the beef in freezer paper or use freezer storage bags. For maximum protection, remove all the air from the freezer bags before sealing them up.