Beef: Why eat it?

May is Beef Month in the United States. Beef is a kind of meat comes from cattle. Hamburgers and steaks are made of beef! Beef and other meats contain many nutrients that your body needs.

Why choose meat?

Meat is a good source of protein, iron and zinc. Yes, there are plants that provide these nutrients, but here is the difference.

The difference lies in quality. Animal food products contain complete proteins. This means that foods such as milk, meat and eggs provide the human body with high amounts of all the essential amino acids needed for a healthy body. Plant food products contain incomplete proteins. Though foods such as grains, legumes, nuts and seeds do contain protein, they do not provide significant amounts of all the essential amino acids needed by the body.

Beef is also full of zinc and iron. Yes, there are many plant foods that contain high amounts of zinc and iron. The problem is that your body cannot absorb the zinc and iron in plants as easily. Meat is a different story because meat contains heme iron, whereas plant foods contain non-heme iron. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin, a protein in the body that carries iron.

Because your body already has hemoglobin in the blood stream, your body is ready to absorb heme iron in meat!

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Nutrients found in beef

Zinc: This nutrient makes the immune system functional. It also aids in cell division, which is important for your body’s ability to heal. A 3 ounce serving of beef provides the body with 39 percent of its daily required amount of zinc.

Iron: This mineral is used to keep the body, especially the brain, healthy by helping red blood cells carry oxygen. Iron is the most common deficiency in the United States. Prevent this efficiency in your body by eating plenty of beef and vitamin C rich foods.

Protein: Without protein, the body could not exist. Protein is a part of all the tissues, hormones and enzymes that make up your body. Protein is needed in high amounts to support growth and health. A 3 ounce serving of beef provides 50 percent of the body’s daily required amount of protein.

B-vitamins: These vitamins help the body turn food into usable energy. Beef provides many of the needed B-vitamins.

Fat: This nutrient is needed in limited amounts for the formation of hormones and as an energy source. Half of the fatty acids in beef are unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are the healthy kind of fat.

Selenium: This mineral helps prevent damage to your body’s cells. A 3 ounce serving of beef provides the body with 31 percent of its daily required amount of selenium.

Choline: This nutrient keeps your brain healthy. It can help your memory!

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How does beef compare to other foods?

This easy to read chart compares the nutritional value of 3 ounces of lean beef (only 154 calories) to other foods.

View the chart

Jr Animal Scientist

A Jr. Animal Scientist membership is a great way for kids to learn about science and the animal world.

Through the Jr. Animal Scientist magazine and special online resources, kids can learn about pets, farm animals and zoo animals. Scientific information is tailored for kids ages 5 to 9 (K-3rd grades). Eye-catching photos and exciting animal activities add to the fun! Plus, all Jr. Animal Scientists get special prizes just for joining.

Join today