The Power of Protein

I will be blogging this month about how you can incorporate beef into a healthy diet. These posts are sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative and the Pennsylvania Beef Council, but are expressions of my own.

A balanced diet supports health.

While everyone has a different opinion about exactly which foods to eat, most people who are striving to eat a healthy diet will agree with that statement. I’m pretty sure that if we just get back to basics, we’d be in pretty good shape.

A healthy diet is created based on a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats (macronutrients, or “macros” for short). These three macronutrients provide the calories (or energy) we need every day. To maintain a healthy weight, you’ll want to be consuming just enough calories for your activity (when you consume more than your body burns, you gain weight). Your goal is to include nutrient dense foods so that your diet also includes all of the vitamins and minerals you need.

Beef is a nutrient dense food. It provides vitamin B12, B6, zinc, niacin, selenium, iron, phosphorus, choline, and riboflavin. Of course beef is an excellent source of protein too. Protein helps maintain muscle, supporting strong, lean bodies. If you are working out regularly with both weights and cardio, consuming adequate protein is important for both repair (the small tears that can occur with use) and maintenance of muscle tissue. 

Weight Control

Research has shown that consuming protein in equal increments is more effective than consuming larger amounts at one sitting. Therefore, it’s optimal to include about 15-25 grams of protein at each meal (your protein needs may vary based on age, gender, and activity). Adding  a small portion of a high protein food to each meal also helps with satiety (you’ll feel more full, longer). This can be an effective strategy for weight control.

While I recommend that you eat a variety of foods, keep in mind that lean beef provides a great source of protein at a low calorie cost. This is something to consider, especially if you are a middle aged woman (like me). You want the most bang for your buck, so to speak. For instance, 3 ounces of lean beef provides 25 grams of protein at only 154 calories, but 3 ounces of salmon only provides 17 grams of protein, and 3 ounces of cheese would provide you 22 grams of protein but at a cost of over 300 calories. So include variety, but be aware of calories too.

Heart Health

You know I support DASH Diet research, but there’s another interesting study called BOLD. The “Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet” (BOLD) study, showed that consuming lean beef daily as part of a heart-healthy diet, can reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol by 10 percent. The BOLD and DASH diets are very similar, but the BOLD study specifically looked at how adding lean cuts of beef would impact LDL levels.

Check out the section “Beefing up Your Plate, Not Your Waistline” of Chapter 17 in Hypertension Cookbook For Dummies® for more information about including beef in your heart healthy diet (click on “Look Inside” the book, for a sneak peak).

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