Q: Is lean beef good or not so good for you?

A: Heart disease is so prevalent in the United States that nearly every American has been affected by it, is suffering from one of its risk factors, or has an immediate friend or family member who has experienced heart disease, heart attack or stroke.

The cost is great: $444 billion was spent on heart disease and stroke care in the United States during 2010.

Many adults turn to the recommendations they’ve heard over and over again in an attempt to keep their tickers as healthy as possible. Advice to reduce salt intake and watch fat content holds true today.  

However, one heart-healthy recommendation has changed with new research. Heat up the grill and pop open the red wine because you’ll now hear dietitians encouraging the consumption of lean beef as part of a healthy diet.

The Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet, or BOLD, study is one reason for the new viewpoint on beef.  

This study compared the consumption of 4 ounces of lean beef daily with the gold standard of heart-healthy eating, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet. Researchers wanted to compare the effect that each diet would have on cholesterol.  

Both diets contained a similar mix of nutrients, including less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat, but the BOLD diet contained 4 ounces of lean beef each day while the DASH diet limited red meat. At the end of the study, it was clear that both diets lowered LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, in participants by 10 percent, providing evidence that beef may not be as bad for cholesterol and heart health as once thought.

Advancements in science also may change the way consumers view beef in general.  

For starters, cattle farmers are actually raising beef that is leaner than it was 50 years ago. We also know that more than half the fat in beef is actually monounsaturated fat. This is the same type of heart-healthy fat found in olive oil.  

Nutrient density is another reason to sing the praises of beef.  Beef is packed with protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc and other nutrients important to good health. A person would have to eat 670 calories of peanut butter to get the same amount of protein in 150 calories of lean beef.

Americans are learning how to balance their meals for overall health.  This is due in part to the development of MyPlate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture concept that teaches healthy eating. MyPlate is a simple tool that helps consumers visualize each meal as a plate. Ideally, every meal would be comprised of a plate containing one-fourth lean meat or protein, one-fourth whole grains, one-half fruits and vegetables, and a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy on the side. Following this method helps consumers incorporate lean beef in a heart-healthy way.  


Here’s a simple and delicious way to pan-broil top sirloin beef. Serve with steamed green beans, a small baked sweet potato, a whole-grain dinner roll and fat-free milk for a heart-healthy meal:

1. Heat a heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes.

2. Remove steak from refrigerator and season as desired, such as with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Place the steak in the preheated skillet, don’t add water or oil and leave uncovered.

3. Pan-broil the steak for 12 to 15 minutes for medium-rare (145 degrees) to medium (160 degrees) doneness, turning occasionally.

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.