It seems that over the last couple of years beef has been a controversial food - is it good for you? Is grass-fed better than grain-fed? Is red meat bad for you? With all of these questions and more, who even knows where to turn for answers. Well, how about we turn to the animal scientists to see what they recommend!
First off, lets talk about protein. Animal protein seems to be getting a bad reputation, but are you getting the whole story from the media? Of course not. Not all proteins are created equal due to taste, texture, amount of protein per serving of something, and the calories that are consumed in order to get that protein. Let's compare some plant proteins to beef protein: -Quinoa - it takes 3 cups of quinoa (which equates to 666 calories) to consume 25g of protein
-Peanut butter - 6.5 tbsp of peanut butter (which equates to 613 calories) to consume 25g of protein
-Black beans - 1 2/3 cups of black beans (which equals 365 calories) is required to consume 25g of protein
-Edamame - 1 1/3 cups of edamame (which equals 249 calories) equates to 25g of protein
-Beef - 3 ounces of beef (173 calories) will give you 25g of protein
So what does that mean? In a world where we are so focused on cutting calories and getting the most bang for our buck, it is smarter (and less expensive) to consume beef for your protein needs. Now, I'm not saying you need to eat beef all day, every day, but definitely add a little in (as long as you don't have any dietary restrictions) every couple of days to mix up your recipes.
Fun little fact for you, many people benefit from eating protein with every meal. When you consume 20-30g of protein with every meal (instead of having it all in one meal), you are more likely to meet your protein needs, improve satiety and preserve your lean muscle mass.
Let's also discuss the differences in beef.
- Grain-finished (most beef is raised this way and likely doesn't have a specific label claim): this beef comes from cattle that spend the majority of their lives eating grass or forage. They then spend 4-6 months at a feedyard eating a balanced diet of grains, local feed ingredients (like potato hulls or sugar beets), and hay or forage. These cattle may or may not be given U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antibiotics to treat, prevent or control disease and/or growth-promoting hormones.
- Certified organic: this beef comes from cattle that never received any antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones. They may be either grain or grass-finished, as long as the USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) certifies the feed is 100% organically grown. The cattle may spend time at a feedyard.
- Grass-finished or grass-fed: this beef comes from cattle that spend their whole lives eating grass or forage. They may also eat grass, forage, hay or silage at the feedyard. These cattle may or may not be given FDA-approved antibiotics to treat, prevent or control disease and/or growth-promoting hormones.
- Naturally raised (may be referred to as "never-ever"): this beef comes from cattle that has never received any antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones. They may be either grain or grass-finished, and they may spend time at a feedyard.
I'm not saying you should consume beef all day everyday, but with the above information maybe you will consider it from time to time and be grateful for the nutrients it provides.
Lots of love! Dr. Kelly and Dr. Kari
*Most of the information and data in this blog were obtained from the Colorado and Oklahoma Beef Councils. If you would like to learn more, please go to their websites and read the sources the cite from as well.