Depending on what you read, beef has become the food villain. Many want to blame beef for everything from causing disease to warming the planet.
None of this is deserved. Beef, especially 100% grass-fed beef, provides many health benefits. It shows how far things have gone that this sounds almost radical. However, many scientific sources continue to report the truth about beef: It’s good for you.
When considering beef, it’s important to remember that not all meat is the same. Many of our articles here explain in more detail how sustainable cattle ranching and grass-fed beef makes a big difference in the health of the meat.
As noted by Healthline, “It's important to realize that not all meat is created equal.” The site also states that “red meat is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.”
Here’s a look at what they mean.
A 3.5-ounce piece of beef is filled with healthy vitamins. They include:
- B3 (niacin), which can help lower cholesterol, reduce hardening of the arteries and supports functions in the skin and the digestive and nervous systems.
- B12, which supports healthy nerve and blood cells and helps create DNA, the building blocks of genetic material in cells. B12 does not occur in vegetables or fruit.
- B6, which is associated with brain health and mood regulation (possibly decreasing feelings of depression)
A 3.5-ounce piece of beef is also rich in many minerals. Three of these minerals are:
- Iron. Healthline calls this “high-quality heme iron,” meaning the body absorbs it better than from other sources.
- Zinc, which is vital to support a healthy immune system, among many other benefits
- Selenium, which is an antioxidant that may help protect against heart disease and some types of cancer.
Protein For Muscle Building
Beef has an elevated level of proteins and the amino acids critical to both muscle building and repairing damaged muscles. Protein also helps the body fight illness.
As noted above, when considering the health benefits of beef, it’s important to understand where the beef came from. Grass-fed beef - that is, 100% grass-fed beef - has a higher level of health benefits, according to numerous studies.
For example, a California State University study on the benefits of grass-fed beef vs. that of grain-fed beef found that grass-fed beef has a “more desirable” saturated fatty acid profile; is higher in healthy Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) isomers; and is higher in precursors for vitamin A and vitamin E; higher in cancer fighting antioxidants.
The study also found grass-fed beef is lower in overall fat content.
Other Health Issues
It’s accepted as fact among many that beef increases the risk of heart disease. But, again, the details are important. For example, a review of 20 studies involving more than 1.2 million people found that processed meat was associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, there was no association found for unprocessed red meat.
A European study largely reachedthe same conclusion.
As with most things, the truth about beef is in the science and the details. For those who still want to eat beef, there are many healthy choices. A good place to start is with a local farm that raises cattle that are 100% grass-fed and pasture finished.