BEEF Daily

Beef Is Just As Healthy As Turkey

RSS

A common misconception is that turkey is a much healthier alternative than beef. Don’t be fooled; eat beef this holiday season.

If you’re watching your waistline and looking for lean alternatives, don’t ditch beef this holiday season. Chances are your Thanksgiving turkey is already thawing for the big day tomorrow, and perhaps you think a lean turkey breast is going to be the guiltless part of your big family dinner that might include sugary goodies like pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. But, don’t think turkey is your only healthy option.

Is turkey healthier than beef? Let’s take a look at both choices.

The Huffington Post recently featured Ellie Krieger, nutritionist and host of The Cooking Channel’s “Healthy Appetite.” Krieger clarified a common misconception on animal proteins. She says that lean ground beef can be just as healthy as lean turkey. She also said that when you're cooking, it's best to choose meat that is 90% lean or higher.

“I think it’s a misconception that people automatically think that a turkey burger is better than a beef burger, and that’s not correct,” says Krieger. “If you get ground beef that is 90% lean or higher, you are going to be getting meat that is just about as lean as turkey, although turkey can get up to 99% lean. But, sometimes, turkey has the skin ground into it, so it’s more fatty.”

Cooking Light magazine agrees. In its article, “The Most Common Nutrition Mistakes,” swapping ground turkey for ground beef to save fat is listed as mistake number four on the list.

“Mistake 4: You trade ground turkey for ground beef in recipes to save saturated fat. Result: Unless you’re careful, not much savings over lean beef. Turkey breast is lean, but dark meat isn’t, and some ground turkey contains both. A quarter-pound of regular ground turkey contains 3 g saturated fat. Compare that to only 2.5 g in the same amount of sirloin. Ground turkey breast, on the other hand, has just half a gram of saturated fat, so the right cut of turkey is a significant fat-cutter. What to do: Read the label; buy the lean.”

Fit Sugar, an online nutritional website, offers a side-by-side comparison of these two proteins, which shows that turkey burgers are actually higher in cholesterol and sodium, and that beef is actually higher in nutrients such as calcium, protein and potassium.

If lean is your thing, don’t assume you have to stick to that dry turkey breast this holiday season. Look for 90% lean ground beef or one of the 29 lean cuts of beef to star at the center of your dinner menu.

What’s your favorite way to include lean beef in your diet? What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

Keith Evans (not verified)
on Nov 21, 2012

Amanda, have you seen the Texas A&M research on marbling in beef? It showed that the higher the percent of marbling in beef, (from grain-fed cattle) the healthier it is. The fat lowered bad cholesterol and raised the good cholesterol in the blood. It may be time for the industry to stop apologizing for our production of high USDA Choice and Prime cattle, and start promoting its benefits to consumers.

Keith Evans

D. A. (not verified)
on Nov 22, 2012

Beef is higher in iron and zinc than turkey. The fat of grass-fed cattle is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids. The fat of grain-fed cattle has more Omega 6 fatty acids--something that most Americans get too much of already in their grain-heavy diets. The fat of grass-fed cattle and other grass-fed meats and milk from ruminants are the absolute best source for conjugated linoleic acid, the benefits of which our check-off dollars were researching until it was discovered that grain-feeding cattle did not contribute to CLA production in the beef. At CLA levels as low as 0.1 percent of the diet -- the amount of CLA that one might obtain from diet alone -- atherosclerosis was inhibited by 34 percent. at dietary levels of 1 percent CLA caused substantial (30 percent) regression of established atherosclerosis. This is the first example of substantial regression of atherosclerosis being caused by diet alone. In laboratory and experimental animal studies, CLA has been shown to be a powerful anti-carcinogen at relatively low levels. It has also been shown to exhibit other positive health effects, such as being anti-atherogenic, anti-diabetic, providing enhanced immune function and improved body composition when complemented with moderate exercise. Because of the functional properties of CLA and its presence in beef, The American Dietetic Association (ADA) named beef as a “Functional Food” in its 1999 Position Paper. A functional food is defined as any potentially healthful food or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains.

W.E. (not verified)
on Nov 22, 2012

Have you seen this?
DENVER, Colo. (Jan.19, 2001) - Two recently published studies found significant health benefits from diets containing a fatty acid called Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). The fatty acid is found naturally in ruminant products, such as beef and milk. It is not found, to any great extent, in other animal products or in plant products.
The first study, “Induction of Apoptosis by Conjugated Linoleic Acid in Cultured Mammary Tumor Cells and Premalignant Lesions of the Rat Mammary Gland" by Clement Ip, Ph.D., was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention in July 2000. It shows that feeding CLA during the early stage of breast cancer development is able to reduce the number of precancerous lesions in mammary tissue.
The second study, "Influence of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) on Establishment and Progression of Atherosclerosis in Rabbits" by David Kritchevsky, Ph.D., confirmed earlier observations that CLA can inhibit atherogenesis in rabbits. It was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in August 2000. Both research efforts were supported by cattle producers through their $1-per-head beef checkoff.
The study shows that CLA feeding during the early stage of breast cancer development can reduce the number of precancerous lesions in mammary tissue. Human epidemiological studies by other researchers have shown that breast cancer incidence tends to be lower in subjects with higher levels of CLA in their tissues. Because of these findings, a real and beneficial link appears to exist between CLA and reduced incidence of breast cancer.
Kritchevsky’s study confirmed earlier observations that CLA can inhibit atherogenesis (the development of atherosclerosis, or fatty streaks and later plaques in arteries) in rabbits, a commonly used animal model to study the development of atherosclerosis. At CLA levels as low as 0.1 percent of the diet -- the amount of CLA that one might obtain from diet alone -- atherosclerosis was inhibited by 34 percent.
In an even more striking effect of CLA, at dietary levels of 1 percent CLA caused substantial (30 percent) regression of established atherosclerosis. This is the first example of substantial regression of atherosclerosis being caused by diet alone.
In laboratory and experimental animal studies, CLA has been shown to be a powerful anti-carcinogen at relatively low levels. It has also been shown to exhibit other positive health effects, such as being anti-atherogenic, anti-diabetic, providing enhanced immune function and improved body composition (under some conditions).
Work continues on CLA to further document and explain these exciting findings from animal studies and then expand the research to more human studies. Ideally, beneficial dietary components (such as CLA) would be obtained from food sources like beef rather than from supplements.
Because of the functional properties of CLA and its presence in beef, The American Dietetic Association (ADA) named beef as a “Functional Food” in its 1999 Position Paper. A functional food is defined as any potentially healthful food or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains.
“Consumers should be aware of where potentially beneficial dietary components are found in the food supply,” said Kritchevsky. “They should also be made aware that all fats are not bad, with CLA being an excellent example of a ‘good’ fatty acid, and that dietary pattern is more important than any single ingredient.”
(NCBA pulled funding for this research shortly after this report.)

on Nov 25, 2012

Has there been any other research on CLA? I'm curious about this because I buy my beef directly from the ranch. It's grazed on grass and barley, i.e. not in a feedlot but they eat the entire barley plant as if it were grass. I see that barley is classified as both a grass and a grain, so I wonder if my beef would be classified as "grass fed" for purposes of its CLA content.

I'm not a health food nut. I do this because I know the rancher, and because I think their beef tastes better than what I get at the store. It's a good deal, too.

Post new comment
or to use your BEEF Magazine ID
What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

Contributors

Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×