By Mandy G. Armentor, MS, RD, LDN
Assoc. Extension Agent (FCS-Nutrition)
Louisiana cattle producers all over the state are celebrating Beef Month in June! Beef is a nutritious commodity that gives us a power pack of nutrients like zinc, iron, protein, and B-vitamins that are essential for the everyday function of our bodies. To find out some of the nutrients beef offers, read on to find out how really good it is for you!
Zinc may not be the nutrient you think about a lot, but your body needs it for essential functions such as growth and development, maintenance of the body’s immune system, wound healing and appetite control. Beef is the number one source of zinc in the average American diet. Did you know that a 3 ounce serving of beef provides 39% of the zinc most people need in one day?
Iron is a mineral that we all know plays a vital role in our bodies. Iron is essential in helping carry oxygen to the body cells and tissues, assists in making new red blood cells, aids in brain development and supports the immune system all which keeps us healthy. Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the United States of men and women and children. Beef is the number three source of iron in the diet next to iron-fortified cereals and breads. However, iron from beef is more readily absorbed in the body than iron from enriched breads and cereals. Some food for thought, meat and vitamin C work together in yielding the highest amount of iron absorbed into the blood stream. So try some grilled beef strips with a nice spinach salad on the side for a meal high in iron.
Protein has many roles in our body functions. Proteins are in all of our body tissues, muscles, cells and, they make up the hormones and enzymes that regulate body processes. Proteins work with our immune system to protect you from disease and they also work as an energy source. You, however, need to eat your recommended daily allowance of protein every day for the maximum health benefit. We know that meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and eggs contain some of the highest amounts of protein available. Remember that My Pyramid recommends five ounces of protein sources per day, and a 3 ounce serving of meat can provide up to 50% of the daily recommended protein needed.
The B-vitamins are nothing to be forgotten about in beef. The B-vitamins work to promote growth and maintain health; you need some B-vitamins to “unleash” the energy in food.
Most people associate beef with having a high fat diet. Most cuts of beef sold on the market today are lean and the meat is about 27% leaner today than 25 years ago. So, if you are watching your fat intake or cholesterol intake, beef could well fit into your diet. Some of the leanest cuts of beef according to the USDA are: eye round, top round, round tip, top sirloin, bottom round, top loin, tenderloin, and flank steak. Using these cuts of beef and low fat preparation methods would ensure the lowest amount of calories and fat yielded from serving beef. Beef is also high in selenium and choline which are more essential nutrients that work as antioxidants in the body and essential for long and short term memory function.
Now that you have brushed up on your Beef nutrition and next time you are walking through the grocery store deciding what is for dinner, think Beef-it’s what’s for dinner!®
All information obtained from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association.
For more information on this topic, or any nutrition topic visit the LSU Ag Center’s website www.lsuagcenter.com or call Mandy G. Armentor, MS, RD, LDN, Assoc. Extension Agent (FCS-Nutrition, in the Vermilion Parish LSU AgCenter Office at 337-898-4335.