Diets rich in fatty meats can raise your risk for serious conditions, from high blood pressure to certain forms of cancer. Lower-fat meats, such as lean beef, however, provide numerous benefits. To reap these, choose beef cuts with the words 'round' or 'sirloin,' and ground beef labeled 95 percent lean. Trimming visible fat and using low-fat cooking methods, such as roasting and broiling, also helps. Learning more about what lean beef has to offer may inspire you to make wiser food decisions.
Low Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
Fatty meats are high in saturated fat and cholesterol -- factors associated with high LDL, or "bad," cholesterol levels and an increased risk for heart disease. A review of 54 studies regarding red meat and heart disease risk factors, published in the "Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2005, showed that lean meat is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and unlikely to contribute to heart disease as part of a balanced diet. Replacing high-fat meats, such as steak and full-fat ground beef, in your diet with lean beef alternatives is one way to reduce your overall saturated fat and cholesterol intake, lowering your risk for heart disease. Limiting other foods high in saturated fat, such as high-fat dairy products, fried foods and fast food, however, is also important.
Your body needs protein to grow and develop properly. Protein also provides calories and energy, and plays an important role in physical strength and lean tissue repair. If you eat about 2,000 calories per day you should aim for 50 to 175 grams of protein per day, according to MayoClinic.com. Lean ground beef goes a long way toward your protein needs, providing about 22 grams per 3-ounce serving. Lean sirloin steak, with the fat trimmed away, provides 25 grams of protein per 3 ounces.
Iron is a mineral that helps deliver oxygen to your cells. If your levels drop too low, which is relatively common among menstruating women, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, you can experience fatigue, poor immune function, dizziness and exhaustion. And the form of iron in animal products, known as heme iron, is better absorbed than non-heme iron, which derives from plants. Three ounces of lean, braised chuck beef provide 3.1 milligrams of iron. Women ages 19 to 50 need about 18 milligrams daily for optimum health.
B vitamins support a healthy metabolism, which allows your body to convert calories into energy. They also provide antioxidant benefits, lowering your risk for infections and disease. Beef is one of the top sources of B vitamins, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, including niacin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12. Broiled top sirloin steak provides nearly 25 percent of adults' daily recommended vitamin B-12 intake. This is important if you are prone to low iron levels, which often accompanies vitamin B-12 deficiencies.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What are Considered Lean Cuts of Meat?
- Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Lean Meat and Heart Health
- MayoClinic.com: Healthy Diet: End the Guesswork With These Healthy Guidelines: Protein
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Protein Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron Fact Sheet
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What Are B-Vitamins and Folate?
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B-12 Fact Sheet
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com