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When it comes to a healthy diet, people tend to want to put each food in the “healthy or unhealthy” column. Not only is this all or nothing method a recipe for feeling deprived, it usually isn’t as healthy as you would expect.
The reality is that not all the age-old wisdom about healthy eating is correct. We’ve been discovering more and more diet misconceptions in recent years. One of the most common misconceptions is that beef is unhealthy.
In fact, there are dozens of benefits to eating beef. It’s a healthy main dish that provides vital nutrients your body needs. Of course, the type of beef you eat and the way you prepare it will factor in as well. To find out why you should put beef back into your diet, check out these important health benefits.
The Benefits of Eating Beef
Despite its bad reputation, red meat can be a strong part of a healthy and balanced diet. Here are some of the vital nutrients beef will add to your diet:
Inflammation. Many people have problems with too much or too little inflammation in their body, which can lead to a variety of issues. Inflammation is also the key aspect of several common conditions like arthritis.
Fatty acids are instrumental in keeping inflammation in control. Your body uses fatty acids to create prostaglandins, which regulate how much inflammation your body needs and where.
B vitamins are a powerhouse. They include a wide range of essential minerals, including B12, riboflavin, niacin (or B3), folate, thiamin, B6, and pantothenic acid.
B vitamins support a variety of healthy functions throughout the body. They reduce the effects of aging. They also reduce your risk for heart disease, the most common cause of death in the US, so they could even help you live longer.
These vitamins also support current and lasting neurological function. They’re known for helping you have a healthy sleep cycle and even maintain stronger fertility.
The benefits of B vitamins extend to your mental health as well. They contribute to a more consistently positive mood and reduce the risk and severity of depression.
Another nutrient you’ll get from beef is L-carnitine. This amino acid is particularly important for those trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight because your body needs it to metabolize and burn fat.
In addition to weight control, L-carnitine has the all-important benefit of improving your heart health. It helps to lower high blood pressure, oxidative stress, nitric oxide, and inflammation. For patients with heart failure, higher rates of L-carnitine are also linked to lower mortality.
To top it all off, L-carnitine helps to keep diabetes under control.
Iron is an important nutrient, and it’s one that we often don’t get in appropriate levels. Anemia (iron deficiency) can be a serious health detriment and it can even be fatal in extreme cases. Iron is even more important for pregnant women because it helps fetal brain development.
While there is iron in some plant products, your body absorbs iron more easily when it comes from beef. That’s part of the reason beef is such a staple of the paleo diet.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
This is one of the lesser-known nutrients in beef, but that doesn’t make it any less essential. It’s particularly helpful for people who have obesity and want to lose weight because it improves your insulin sensitivity and promotes fat loss.
This amino acid brings us back to inflammation. Carnosine helps your body regulate inflammation by bringing it to areas that need healing and reducing inflammation when it isn’t needed. It also supports an overall healthier immune system and even slows down your internal aging process.
Magnesium helps your body to produce hundreds of essential enzymes. This means a healthy supply of magnesium impacts a large number of body functions.
Magnesium enhances your bone health and bone density, lower your risk for osteoporosis. It also keeps your heart healthier by lowering the risk for atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
An adequate magnesium supply doesn’t just keep you healthy but it keeps you comfortable as well. In addition to controlling pre-menstrual syndrome, magnesium can lower anxiety and prevent or relieve migraine headaches. Beef is a great natural source of magnesium.
While most people don’t know about glutathione, this compound performs several important functions for your health. It’s an anti-oxidant that keeps your natural aging at bay and supports a longer life.
Glutathione also enhances your immune system and protects against cellular damage. That protection lowers your risk for nearly every chronic disease.
Your body produces its own glutathione, but it needs certain amino acids to perform the process. Beef contains these amino acids as well as its own additional glutathione.
This one surprises most people because we typically hear about creatine as a supplement for body builders. While its benefits for exercise performance, muscle growth, and endurance are real, you can also get it naturally from beef.
In addition to giving you dietary creatine, beef also contains the amino acids your body can use to produce its own creatine.
The benefits of vitamin D are no secret. It enhances your bone health and teeth health while supporting a healthier immune system and nervous system. It also regulates insulin and helps to keep diabetes under control, as well as supporting better lung and cardiovascular health.
Most people think the best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure. It is… However, beef is a rich source of easily absorbable vitamin D too.
It’s no surprise that your body needs protein and that beef is a great way to get it. Few people realize how many functions protein serves in the body, though.
In addition to helping you repair and build muscles, protein lets you feel full. This goes a long way toward preventing overeating and keeping you satisfied on a healthy diet.
Beyond all this, protein is a component of every cell in your body. That makes it essential to regenerating healthy cells. Protein is also instrumental in carrying nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, as well as supporting healthy blood clotting and healthy vision.
Potassium is one of the most underrated nutrients for your health. It’s been linked to a lower mortality rate. That comes as no surprise because it reduces your risk of a stroke and supports a healthier blood pressure.
In addition, your body needs potassium to maintain its muscle mass. The nutrient also helps to keep kidney stones at bay.
Despite all its health benefits, potassium is not as large of a part of our diets as it should be. In fact, over 98% of Americans aren’t getting enough potassium. Fortunately, beef is a great source of potassium, so it should be a staple of your diet.
Just one serving of beef has more than half of your daily zinc. But why is it so important to get your zinc?
For adults, zinc supports a healthier immune system and faster wound healing. It also helps to ward off many vision problems like macular degeneration, cataracts, and night blindness.
In addition, having enough zinc can protect you against the common cold or help you get past it faster. It also reduces your risk for inflammatory disease while supporting brain function and promoting fertility in men.
Zinc is even more important for kids. A zinc deficiency in children can stunt their growth and lead to severe diarrhea. It’s important to build zinc into your family’s diet from a young age with beef and other sources.
They Say Beef Causes Heart Disease
Many people have seen articles that imply that eating red meat leads to heart disease. For that reason, some people have even cut beef from their diets entirely, often without knowing the many nutrients they’re giving up.
The reality is that to date, these findings have only been seen in observational studies. The studies have shown a correlation only: they haven’t been able to show that beef actually increases the risk for heart disease. The reality is that we have no definitive proof that eating beef causes heart disease.
It’s also important to note that some of these studies compared processed beef to unprocessed, more natural beef. In the studies that made this comparison, unprocessed beef did not even show the correlation to heart disease that processed meat did.
Ultimately, the takeaway is that beef has too many benefits to let a limited study scare you away. If you’re concerned, choose more natural, less processed beef instead.
Important: Saturated Fat is YOUR FRIEND!
Grass-Fed Beef vs. Grain-Fed Beef
Another important distinction to make is that between grass-fed and grain-fed beef. While grass-fed beef is more expensive, the reality is that it truly is better for your health.
Grass-fed beef is more nutrient-rich than grain-fed beef. Most notably, it has a stronger and healthier fatty acid profile than.
The fatty acids that are present in grass-fed beef are particularly beneficial to the brain. They comprise a structural component of the brain, and they’re vital for fetal brain development during pregnancy. They also help to control depression and anxiety, as well as ADHD symptoms in kids. As you age, they protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The fatty acids in grass-fed beef go far beyond the brain as well. As a component of the eyes, they support healthier vision. They also reduce your risk of heart disease and reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
In addition to these benefits, grass-fed beef’s fatty acids help to regulate that all-important inflammation as well. In the process of keeping the immune system functioning well, these fatty acids can reduce the severity of many autoimmune diseases.
The list of benefits from grass-fed beef’s fatty acids continues to grow. They can reduce your risk for colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. For people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, fatty acids can keep the illness under control.
For kids, these fatty acids can also reduce their risk of asthma. As you get older, fatty acids are instrumental in supporting your bone health and joint health, as well as reducing your risk for osteoporosis and arthritis.
When it comes to mental health, fatty acids play a role too. While they may not be able to prevent bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, they can lower the conditions’ severity.
Fatty acids are also an important way to help your body get the sleep it needs, which contributes to all your body’s vital functions. In addition, they fortify your skin against sun damage, keeping it looking young and reducing your risk for skin cancer. Last but not least, the fatty acids in grass-fed beef can reduce menstrual pain.
Capturing the Health Benefits of Beef
Beef is one of those foods people often cut out of their diets when they’re trying to eat healthy. They’ve heard bits and pieces about heart disease and they think they’re giving themselves a longer life. The reality, though, is that they’re missing out on many vital health benefits of eating beef. In fact, many of the nutrients in beef have been shown to reduce heart disease. Saturated fat should NOT be avoided, it’s a bad recommendation to say so and it isn’t based in honest science.
The key is choosing the right beef. Look for grass-fed, unprocessed beef. The more natural beef you can find, the better. As long as you’re buying the right beef and using it as one part of a healthy diet, it may be able to help you have a longer, healthier life.