New dietary guidelines released by the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services call for balance, variety and moderation of all foods and, for the first time, stresses increased physical activity. The good news is that beef fits these guidelines.

"Americans are eating well within the guidelines for beef and other protein sources," says Mary Young, NCBA executive director of nutrition. "But we are not eating enough grains, fruits and vegetables. Americans need to eat more of these foods, but not at the expense of beef because you will lose out on beef's power pack of important nutrients that often are deficient in Americans' diet."

A 3-ounce serving of beef contributes less than 10% of calories to a 2,000-calorie diet, yet supplies more than 10 percent of the recommended daily value for six important nutrients including protein, iron, zinc, niacin and vitamins B6 and B12, Young says.

The guidelines, which previously focused on food, have been expanded to include exercise and bacterial contamination warnings. The government also proposed a nutrition label for meat and poultry, giving information on calories, fat and cholesterol.