BEEF Daily

Sensational Headlines Aside, Beef Is A Healthy Choice


America's favorite protein is under fire this week, as red meat is characterized as a poor choice for longevity.

Does red meat consumption equate to increased mortality? That's the claim of research released Monday and widely reported by national media this week, among them USA Today,  ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today Show. All the attention was the result of online publication in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine of a research project that analyzed the diet, health and death data on 37,698 men and 83,644 women. Participants completed questionnaires about their diets every four years.

The research concluded that eating one serving a day of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) increased risk of premature death by 13%. Meanwhile, eating one serving a day of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk of premature death.

"The message we want to communicate is it would be great if you could reduce your intake of red meat consumption to half a serving a day or two to three servings a week, and severely limit processed red meat intake," the lead researcher said.

Shalene McNeill, executive director of human nutrition research for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, counters that the observational study doesn't prove red meat is the dietary villain.

"The most striking thing about this study is those who were eating higher intakes of red meat also were eating more calories, were less physically active, were more likely to smoke and ate fewer fruits, vegetables and whole grains," McNeill told USAToday.

"We have a recent randomized controlled trial that showed eating 4-5 oz. of lean beef daily as a part of a heart-healthy diet improved heart health, including lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, as effectively as several other heart-healthy diets. There are many ways to build a healthy diet with lean beef that also includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes," she says.

Personally, I am confident that beef is a healthy choice. What's more, average per-capita consumption of beef continues to decline; today’s Americans rarely meet USDA recommended daily protein servings. Yet, obesity and diseases related to obesity continue to rise. Perhaps, we should take a look at the low-fat, low-protein, highly processed, high-sugar fare that constitutes standard American diet. What about our modern sedentary lifestyle? Why are we so scared of animal fats and proteins?

When will we finally recognize, with confidence, that beef is a superfood?

But, with those kinds of headlines, who can blame consumers for getting worried? And, with summer grilling season just around the corner, I think it would be a shame if Americans were too scared to enjoy a steak. So, here are additional facts. Help spread the word about beef -- a healthy choice we can enjoy without fear or guilt.

The Lempert Report recently had this to say about beef's role in lowering the incidence of heart disease.

“According to the study from Pennsylvania State University researchers, the inclusion of lean beef (4 oz./day) or the partial replacement of carbohydrates with protein (including lean beef) in a low-saturated fat diet, significantly decreased LDL cholesterol. Despite commonly held beliefs about beef, study participants experienced a 10% decrease in LDL cholesterol from the start of the study, while consuming diets that contained fewer than 7% of their calories from saturated fats.”

Here's more research showing that red meat does NOT cause cancer!

“According to a new meta-analysis of large-scale prospective studies on red and processed meats and cancer published in Nutrition Journal, there is no independent positive association between consumption of red or processed meats and the development of prostate cancer.

“Over the past decade, several major epidemiologic investigations of meat intake and prostate cancer have been published. So, researchers, led by Dominik Alexander of Exponent Health Sciences Practice, conducted a meta-analysis of prospective studies to estimate the summary associations between red meat and processed meat and total prostate cancer; evaluate associations among men with advanced disease; estimate dose response trends; evaluate potential sources of heterogeneity; and assess the potential for publication bias.

"Twenty-six studies were analyzed by the researchers – 15 on red meat and 11 studies investigating processed meats and cancer risk – and they concluded consumption of red or processed meats overall have no association with prostate cancer."

Read more about the study here.

You can share the facts about red meat and cancer with friends, family and physicians. Contact the South Dakota Beef Industry Council, which, along with the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Auxiliary, has developed an educational brochure based on a study that concluded there is no causal link between red meat consumption and cancer. Learn more about it here and request copies of the brochure.

Fear not, fellow beef lovers. Beef is a great choice for a healthy lifestyle; enjoy healthy beef and feel good about serving it to your family.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Peter J Ballerstedt (not verified)
on Mar 15, 2012

Of course this latest media frenzy and the "study" that triggered it are non-science and nonsense. For a deeper review of this particular "study," see these reviews from Zoë Harcombe and Denise Minger

But then, the whole concept that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat are bad for us is flawed as well! I gave a presentation to the American Forage and Grassland Council in January "Saturated Fat and Cholesterol: Health Hazards or Vital Nutrients?" in which I briefly listed a number of facts, supported by citations, demonstrating that the our dietary guidelines are based upon dogma, ideology, and politics, NOT science. I've posted a video here:

Enjoy your products! Base your diets upon them.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 15, 2012

How many true carnivores do you see that have an obesity issue? I realize that we are omnivores, but with respect to other animals we have realized by eating foods higher in protein we can actually produce lean muscle mass. Much like feeding swine (omnivores), we can produce a leaner pig on higher protein diets, if we want to add fat to the animal, increase carbohydrate and caloric intake and limit feed protein and B vitamins. Is this not obvious? Just a little input from someone who enjoys beef and enjoys raising it!

on Mar 15, 2012

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories posted another good explanantion of the pathetically flawed science of the Harvard study that can ve viewed at ths link.

It is a good thing we have a lot of non-ag people also willing and capable of pointing out the value of beef (and other meats) in the diet. Taubes has a very large following among the urban consumer population. I think the value of sharing these links with our urban friends and cousins are an important part of our beef business.

Dave Carlson (not verified)
on Mar 25, 2012

True, studies go both ways on beef, but just try to find anything 1/10 as scathing on vegetable consumption.

To be on the safe side, I'm switching to the Bill Clinton diet myself which is no animal products.

Wayne of Big Fat Daddy's PIT BEEF (not verified)
on Mar 27, 2012

This study is ludicrous. If you go around eating fatty bacon every day and mcdonad's burgers or fast food pink slime sure you are going to heave health problems, and really be obsse especially since half of Americans sit on their butts NOT MOVING AROUND .

Even having a desk job means you have to work a bit harder versus someone on the farm who is moving around all day.

What's wrong with red meat in the form of a steak, steak fajita or nice lean ground round burger? Nothing. I eat eggs and sausage and I'm in shape. I constantly talk about the benefits of beef , angus, lean, and less fatty forms constantly here on my get healthy campaign and besides have partnered in with a bunch of bodybuilders who agree that beef builds protein and is essential to the human race.

Beef does a body good!

Red angus cows (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2012

Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you!


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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.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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