The American Heart Association’s (AHA) dedication to fighting heart disease and stroke drives everything it does. Throughout February, American Heart Month, AHA raised awareness about ways to commit to a healthy lifestyle, like featuring its Heart-Check certification program.
Established more than 20 years ago, the Heart-Check certification program is designed to help consumers make informed choices about the foods they purchase. Shoppers can easily spot heart-healthy options by looking for the AHA’s iconic Heart-Check mark, which alleviates much of the guesswork required when reading nutritional facts and food labels. Today, one out of three shoppers say they use the Heart-Check mark to find healthier options in the grocery store.1
Products with the Heart-Check mark have met criteria based on AHA scientific statements and recommendations. Certified recipes have been evaluated by one of the most trusted health organizations to meet specific nutritional requirements. Recipes can be certified in several categories and require meeting AHA nutrient criteria for total fat, saturated fat, sodium and added sugar per serving.
Much like the AHA, heart health is important to the entire beef industry, with all segments working to produce delicious beef. The Beef Checkoff is actively involved in supporting human nutrition research to understand and communicate science-based information about beef’s role in health.
In addition, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, has been working with the AHA to create recipes for the Heart-Check program. Lean beef is an essential component of a heart-healthy diet and provides 10 essential nutrients including zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins. The AHA has certified a total of 20 Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. recipes and nine extra-lean cuts of beef with its Heart-Check mark.
Consumers can find the lean beef ingredients in these Heart-Check mark recipes in their local grocery stores. The greater availability of these lower-fat cuts is made possible by the efforts of cattle farmers and ranchers who are raising leaner animals, packers and processors who are closely trimming beef cuts and grocery stores and restaurants who are offering leaner beef dishes to consumers.
As more consumers discover heart-healthy recipes including lean beef and the protein’s place in a healthy diet, here are a few tips to share with friends and family who may ask about selecting lean beef:
- To choose lean cuts of beef, look for “loin” or “round” in the name.
- All lean beef cuts have less than 10 grams of total fat per 3.5 ounce serving.
- All lean beef cuts have 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat per 3.5 ounce serving.
- All lean beef cuts have less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 ounce serving.
- 96-percent-lean ground beef is Heart-Check Mark certified.
Organizations like the AHA and the Beef Checkoff continue to deliver heart-healthy beef recipes to help consumers understand that beef’s great taste and quality protein can and should be an integral part of their diets.
The Beef Checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.