Beef’s nutritional profile should trump any attacks from the government about beef being bad for your health. However, FDA’s recent move to ban trans fats has many worried that an attack on beef could be next.
I would like to respond to and reiterate some points made by Troy Marshall in his most recent column, “Eliminating Trans Fats -- What This Means For Beef Producers.”
The column centered on FDA’s plans, announced last week, to require the food industry to gradually phase out all trans fats, which previously had fallen into the agency's "generally recognized as safe" category. This is a category reserved for thousands of additives that manufacturers can add to foods without FDA review. FDA says such a move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks a year and 7,000 deaths.
In a nutshell, Marshall's column warned beef producers that if beef was to one day be deemed as unhealthy by the government, then it would go to the wayside much like soda, trans fats, cigarettes and sodium. Imagine if that happened to the beef industry; such a pronouncement would put the beef industry in a world of hurt. Is it likely? Probably not anytime soon, but we must be vigilant about the potential.
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Unlike trans fats, however, beef has an entire nutritional profile that’s hard to beat. What exactly are trans fats? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. They're used both in processed food and in restaurants. Another name for trans fats is 'partially hydrogenated oils.' Look for them on the ingredients list on food packages.
What about beef? It’s not made via an industrial process. It’s a whole food and one that offers a nutritional power punch like nothing else. I recently attended a cooking demonstration put on by the AHA, Avera Heart Hospital and the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) for National Eating Healthy Day. The demo showcased beef and the heart-healthy ways it can be prepared, and featured recipes such as roast beef and garlic kale.
“For many years, people thought beef wasn’t healthy, but with emerging research such as the BOLD (Beef In An Optimal Lean Diet) study, we now know that’s not true,” said Holly Swee, SDBIC director of nutrition and consumer information. “When shopping for beef, an easy way to choose a lean cut is to look for items with ‘round’ or ‘loin’ on the label.”
The BOLD study Swee referred to was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers from Penn State University found that people who participated in the BOLD study and consumed lean beef daily as part of a heart-healthy diet, experienced a 10% decline in LDL "bad" cholesterol.
Additionally, beef’s fatty profile is heart-healthy; 51% of the fat found in beef is mono-unsaturated, the same heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. What’s more, beef is packed with nutrients like zinc, iron, protein and the B vitamins. It’s a complete protein and can keep folks satiated for longer periods of time, which means they're less likely to snack on junk food like chips and cookies, both of which contain trans fats.
However, instead of fear-mongering that Big Government is going to smear the beef industry (although I’m afraid they’ve been doing this since the 1970s when fat was demonized), we should be focused on re-educating the public that beef can be the center of a healthy dinner plate. Feel free to share this information via social media and help spread the word. Beef is nothing like trans fats. Period.
What do you think about the FDA’s proposed ban on trans fats? Could this translate to the beef industry? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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