Today’s blog addresses the common misconception that beef is full of hormones, causing early onset puberty in young girls.
There are countless myths swirling around about beef and its status as a health food. From a fear of fat, to the ongoing debate about differences of organic, natural and conventionally raised beef, to hormones, to antibiotics, to foodborne illnesses, it’s no wonder moms are puzzled as they shop for beef at the grocery store!
As an expectant mother, I have a keen interest in fueling my body with the best foods for myself and my baby. When I read articles warning mothers about how beef will cause early onset puberty in young girls, I can see why moms with daughters might worry about serving animal protein on the dinner table.
However, this myth is not only inaccurate, but it’s dangerous to cut animal proteins from the diets of adolescent girls.
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Holly Swee, South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) nutritionist, recently explained how most adolescent girls are deficient in protein in their diet.
Swee writes, “Like most Americans, we struggle from time to time getting our diet right, but many were surprised to learn that a 10-year study published in the journal Nutrients found that adolescent girls did not consume the recommended amounts of fruit, vegetables and dairy, and that three out of four consumed less than the recommended amounts in the protein-foods group.
“Even more surprising is that more than 90% of adolescent girls surveyed consumed about five times the recommended maximum intake of solid fats and added sugars. Unfortunately, many adolescent girls shy away from protein because of a fear of weight gain. Recent research points to the importance that high-quality protein plays in overall health, including weight control, by increasing satiety and helping build and maintain muscle mass,” Swee explains.
I recently read a blog post from “Farm Meets Fork” penned by Kassi Williams entitled, “Where’s The Beef? M&Ms and Hormones.” Williams addresses this consumer fear regarding hormones, and says trying to explain it to consumers in terms of nanograms only creates more confusion. She credits rancher Joan Ruskamp, from Dodge, NE, for putting together a really cool visual to show the difference in estrogen levels in different foods.
Williams explains the visual, “As you can see in the photo, Ruskamp carefully measured each pint jar of M&M’s so they represent the amount of nanograms found in different kinds of food and in the human body naturally in comparison to the amount found in beef. In the pint jar furthest to the right, is a sixth of an M&M. This sliver of an M&M represents the amount of hormones found in a 3-oz. serving of beef from cattle that received an implant. In the two middle pint jars are the amount of hormones found in a 3-oz. serving of potatoes with about 20 M&Ms, and a jar showing the hormones in peas containing a few more M&Ms. The pint jar on the left end, which is full of M&Ms, showcases the amount found in a 3-oz serving of cabbage.”
Williams goes on to answer common questions about hormones and beef, and explains why hormones are used in livestock production. You can read the entire blog here, and be sure to keep it handy for future reference should anyone ask about this topic.
It’s very evident that beef isn’t to blame for early onset puberty in young girls. Moreover, we aren’t over-consuming beef these days. In fact, consumption of red meat in the U.S. is at an all-time low, resulting in anemia and iron deficiencies in many children, women and the elderly. As we make our own dietary choices, let’s not let fear drive our purchasing decisions. Instead, let’s use common sense. Real, wholesome food isn’t the enemy, and knowing that a big, juicy steak is good for me and my future children, and it tastes good, too, makes the deal even sweeter.
Have you heard consumers express this concern to you? What do you think of this information? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
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