If you enjoy going out for a nice steak dinner from time to time, you'll be happy to know steak can be part of a nutritious meal as long as you keep the proper portion size in mind. Also, remember to choose leaner cuts of meat. Steak is a high in a number of essential nutrients.
Steak is an excellent source of protein, with one 3-ounce serving of beef tenderloin steak providing 23 grams -- almost half of what you need in a day if you follow a 2,000-calorie diet. Protein from the foods you eat gets broken down into amino acids, which your body uses to make new cells and repair damaged cells.
Niacin and vitamins B-6 and B-12 are also found in steak, which provides 6.2 milligrams of niacin, 0.5 milligrams of vitamin B-6 and 1.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 per 3-ounce serving. This is more the 20 percent of the daily value for each of these nutrients. Niacin is important for turning the food you eat into energy, and for healthy skin, digestion and nerve function. Your body uses both vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 to keep your brain and your immune system working properly.
A 3-ounce serving of tenderloin steak also provides 1.5 milligrams of iron and 290 milligrams of potassium, or 8 percent of the DV for these nutrients; 20 milligrams of magnesium, or 5 percent of the DV; and 4.2 milligrams of zinc, or 28 percent of the DV. Iron is used for forming red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body, and magnesium keeps your heart beating properly and helps maintain your blood sugar and blood pressure at the proper levels. Potassium is essential for your muscles to work and for digesting your food, and you wouldn't be able to smell or taste without zinc, which also plays a role in keeping your immune system working.
The American Cancer Society suggests limiting the amount of red meat you eat, and the American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 6 ounces of meat, fish or poultry in a day. When you do eat steak, stick to a 3-ounce portion, which is about the size of a deck of cards, and choose one of the leaner cuts, such as top or bottom round steak, eye of round steak, sirloin tip side steak or top sirloin steak. Bake or broil your steak instead of grilling or frying it to limit your cancer risk. Grilling or frying red meat increases the amount of carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, or PAH, found in the meat.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Beef, Tenderloin, Steak, Separable Lean and Fat, Trimmed to 0" Fat, All Grades, Cooked, Broiled
- MayoClinic.com: Cuts of Beef: A Guide to the Leanest Selections
- American Cancer Society: American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: 14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.