There’s no shortage of misleading, negative information about beef floating around the Internet these days, so when positive articles appear in the general media, we like to give them some attention. Over the weekend, I came across two such articles, presenting balanced information about the role of beef in a healthy diet.

Beef – the good newsOne Yahoo Health article by Lisa Collier Cool was titled “Muscle-building food men need.”  The article refers to research published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, showing middle-aged men who regularly eat six-ounce servings of 85 percent lean ground beef retain more muscle mass than those eating the USDA-recommended three-ounce serving.  

The article goes on to note methodology problems with some studies that have indicated health risks from eating beef, and cites a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in which participants lowered their “bad”  cholesterol by 10 percent while eating four to five-and-a-half ounces of lean beef per day. 

The author also minimum recommended daily allowance for protein for adult men and women is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. An adult weighing 68 kilograms, or 150-pounds, would need 54 grams of protein a day, or about 6 ounces of lean meat or poultry.

Another article, by Simeon Margolis, MD, PhD, is titled “Should we limit our intake of meat?” Dr. Margolis notes that conventional wisdom has maintained the cholesterol and saturated fat content of meat means we should strictly limit consumption. However, he says a 1999 study found that eating lean beef, pork and veal didn’t raise cholesterol levels any more than chicken or fish. A new Harvard University review of 20 studies, published in the journal Circulation, found that the intake of unprocessed meats beef, pork, or lamb did not increase the risk of coronary heart disease.

Processed meats such as bacon, sausage and deli meats do not get off as easily, with their consumption linked to higher rates of heart disease and other health problems. Research suggests saturated fats are not factor, as levels are similar in processed and fresh meats. The difference in risk likely is related to much higher levels of sodium and nitrate preservatives in the processed meats.

Margolis suggests eating lean cuts, replacing red meat some days with fish or poultry, eating ample amounts of fruits, vegetables, and grains, using polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils such as olive or canola oil for cooking, and avoiding the trans fats found in solid margarines and snack foods