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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well


Health benefits of beef

Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension


Grilled beef tenderloinIn honor of May being National Beef Month, let’s give beef some of the praise it deserves. Keep it lean, and you’ll enjoy significant nutritional benefits.


A 3-ounce serving of beef is an excellent source of protein, zinc, vitamin B12, selenium and phosphorus, which means it provides at least 20 percent of the Daily Value for these nutrients per serving. A 3-ounce serving of beef is also a good source of niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin, which means it supplies 10 to 19 percent of the Daily Value for these nutrients per serving.


All of these nutrients play a vital role in the body. Protein helps build bones, muscles, cartilage and skin. It is also a component of blood, enzymes, hormones and vitamins, and it gives the body energy. Zinc boosts the immune system and promotes wound healing. Phosphorus is required for the formation of healthy teeth and bones. Iron carries oxygen in the blood to the cells and muscles, helping to inhibit fatigue, as well prevent iron-deficiency anemia. Vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6 and riboflavin all aid the body in the release of energy, help the nervous system function properly, and assist with the synthesis of red blood cells and tissues.


Even with these benefits, it is important to select lean cuts of beef that are redder in color, without a lot of marbling. The leanest cuts will have “loin” or “round” in the name. Ground beef should be at least 90 percent lean. After removing any excess fat, use healthier cooking methods like baking, grilling or broiling. Be sure to include a variety of protein foods in your diet in addition to beef, like fish, poultry and nuts. As with all foods, remember to eat beef in moderation. An appropriate portion size is a 3-ounce piece of meat, which is about the size of a deck of cards.




  • American Dietetic Association. (2009). Make beef part of your healthy eating plan. Retrieved March 28, 2011, from
  • National Cattleman’s Beef Association. Health benefits of beef. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. (2011). Protein foods: Why is it important to make lean or low-fat choices from the protein foods group? Retrieved March 28, 2011.


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