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Beef, a traditional staple of many people’s diet, has quite its fair share of flak over the years with reports of increased risk for heart disease and obesity. However, a modern understanding of beef leaves little foundation for these sorts of claims. When thinking about beef in the context of burgers laden with sugary sauces, paired with white flour buns, and processed on a conveyor belt, then the idea of it being unhealthy is a no-brainer. The reality is that lean cuts of grass-fed beef can be one of the most beneficial aspects of your diet. And be sure your beef is grass-fed to truly get the nutritional benefits. Most beef is grain fed and results in higher saturated fat content. Since grass is a cow’s natural diet, it results in healthier fats, beneficial minerals, and better flavor.

Beef has long been known as an excellent source of protein but has been unduly seen as overly high in calories. However, a 3 oz cut of lean beef contains the same amount of protein as 1.5 cups of beans, but with half the calories. Grass-fed beef also is high in Omega-3’s that help benefit the heart and the mind. CLA is a mineral that is gained by eating grass-fed beef and has been known to have cancer-preventing properties. Selenium is another mineral found in beef and has been known to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Omega-3’s and CLA also work together to improve blood sugar levels, resulting in increased energy when you need it. Essential vitamins such as zinc, iron, and B-vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin E are also present in grass-fed beef. As far as the benefits of building muscle, lean, grass-fed beef has a high concentration of high-quality proteins that promote quick muscle growth.

When searching for your beef to include in your meals, look for lean cuts to avoid the high-fat content. Search for the terms “round” or “loin” for the best lean cuts. A newer cut called the “flatiron” is very lean and is considered the second most tender cut of beef you can find. Most grass-fed ground beef is derived from lean cuts as well. When you prepare your meals with your beef, be sure to stick with light flavors and lean sauces to not compromise on the health benefits, and to maintain as much progress as you can on your diet.