During July and August, commuters and vacationers throughout California are likely to come across a delicious-looking portrayal of a California tradition…summer grilling. The billboard shows a steak being turned on the grill and offers a simple—yet very important—message: "Still Safe, Still Nutritious, Still a Family Favorite." The California Beef Council, the promotion, research and education arm of California's beef industry, undertook the campaign with one specific goal in mind—to respond to some of beef's recent critics.
"There's been some pretty blatant misinformation about beef recently both online and in mainstream media," said registered dietitian Katy Tenner. Tenner, who is the Director of Food and Nutrition Outreach at the California Beef Council, also writes the food blog "Look What Katy Did" in which she routinely educates her readers about nutrition and California agriculture. "Ounce-for-ounce and calorie-for-calorie, beef packs more nutrients in a smaller portion than many other foods. This is particularly important to understand if you're trying to lose weight, if you're concerned about proper nutrition for athletic performance, or if you're concerned about the nutritional needs of children."
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20, a 154-calorie, three-ounce serving of lean beef contains more zinc than 13.5 servings of salmon (2,363 calories), more vitamin B12 than 7.5 servings of skinless chicken breasts (1,050 calories), more riboflavin than 4.5 servings of white tuna (491 calories), and more vitamin B6 than 6.5 cups of raw spinach. A three-ounce serving of lean beef also contains more iron than 2.75 cups of raw spinach. "Lean beef is a real nutritional powerhouse," Tenner said.
In addition to its rich nutrient value, lean beef has another advantage for dieters. "Don't discount the satiety factor when trying to lose weight," Tenner points out. "When you feel satisfied after eating—when your appetite is sated—you're far less likely to overdo it on unhealthy 'filler' foods like chips and cookies."
Tenner, who worked as a registered dietitian at a hospital before coming to the California Beef Council, also points to the latest research from The Pennsylvania State University, the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) clinical study. "The clinical trials and blood draws in the BOLD study show that a balanced diet that includes lean beef, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy is as effective in lowering total LDL 'bad' cholesterol as the previously prescribed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which featured little or no red meat." In addition to the cholesterol-lowering effects of lean beef, Tenner points out, of the fat found in beef, 50% is actually an unsaturated fat "just like that found in heart-healthy olive oil, fish and nuts."
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While there is a perception that Americans consume too much red meat, in reality Americans are "increasingly overfed yet undernourished," Tenner said. "USDA Guidelines for Americans (2005) encourages people to get more nutrition from the calories they consume by eating nutrient-rich foods first. Unfortunately, most women in particular, and a number of men are NOT consuming the recommended servings from the meat group based on their overall caloric intake. This places them at risk for nutritional deficiencies." In particular, Tenner notes, 70 percent of females age 20 and older and more than 80 percent of girls 2-11 are not eating the recommended servings from the Meat group each day. Additionally, almost 80 percent of boys 2-11 are not eating the recommended servings from the Meat group each day.
To learn more about beef in a healthy diet, visit the California Beef Council Web site, www.calbeef.org, and click through to Katy Tenner's blog, "Look What Katy Did," or scan the code to read about the BOLD study, see the chart of the 29 lean beef cuts and link to recipes at www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.