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For a substantial period of time, beef has been the subject of scrutiny when it comes to nutritional and healthy lifestyle choices.

An overconsumption of red meat is linked to certain types of cancer and elevated risk for heart disease -- the key word being “overconsumption.”

Any substance – caffeine, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, alcohol, etc. consumed in abundance could eventually lead to health issues. When consumed in moderation and balance, most food items (with the exception of trans fats and heavily processed and preserved foods) can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. The key to keeping consumption within reason is to choose the best lean cuts of beef (this applies to animal proteins in general as well).

Let’s take some to examine the facts and benefits associated with this member of the protein family. According to the Wyoming Beef Council, lean beef is a quality nutrient-rich source of protein. Lean cuts of beef are packed full of 10 essential nutrients including iron, essential amino acids, zinc and B vitamins. Further, and this may be the most surprising fact, there are 38 cuts of beef that meet the standards to be considered “lean.” Yes, sirloin is included in that count!

It isn’t just the nutritional profile of lean beef that is appealing. According to more recent research, there are potential heart health benefits as well. A recent study, Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD), demonstrated that adding lean beef to a well-rounded heart healthy diet actually reduced total cholesterol and low density lipoproteins (LDLs – the “bad” cholesterol).

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What does this mean for beef lovers of Wyoming? It means precisely this: Lean beef is a healthy source of a wide variety of nutrients and should not be exiled from today’s kitchens.

That said, moderation is still a clear message, but that can also be said for enjoying the occasional serving of ice cream and toasting over a glass of wine or two. All good things in balance will not hinder a healthy lifestyle that prioritizes physical activity, stress management, emotional and mental hygiene, and sound nutritional practices.

We are fortunate in this great state to have a quality resource in the Wyoming Beef Council. In fact, this organization is offering a protein challenge – a month of adding protein-rich foods to your daily meals. Visit the Wyoming Beef Council’s website and sign up for the challenge. You can find healthy recipes and creative ways to incorporate this once-demonized food back into the meal plan. There’s no longer a need to ask the question “where’s the beef?” Take the challenge and it will be the star of the plate.

Beef -- make it for dinner!

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Erin Nitschke is a health and human performance educator, NSCA-CPT and ACE Health Coach. She can be reached at erinmd03@gmail.com.

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