Essential Nutrients (10/10/10; ZIP+B)

  1. All beef – whether grass-finished or grain-finished – is a high-quality protein that provides 10 essential nutrients for optimal health. Just remember 10/10/10: one 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides more than 10 percent of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins for less than 10 percent of your daily calories.
  2. Beef is an excellent source of six nutrients and vitamins – protein, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 – providing more than 20 percent of the recommended daily value.
  3. Beef is also a good source, meaning that it provides more than 10 percent of the recommended daily value, of phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and choline.
  4. Most consumers will know the importance of protein in the diet, but if they are unsure, you can share with them that protein is crucial to muscle growth and development, supplies fuel for the body and can help satisfy your hunger and maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Zinc helps your body maintain a healthy immune system, while B vitamins are needed for healthy metabolism, which helps provide energy throughout the day. The iron in beef helps your body transport and use oxygen build healthy red blood cells which carry oxygen from your lungs to your vital organs and muscles.
  6. If you can remember ZIP+B you can remember half of the 10 essential nutrients beef provides: Zinc, Iron, Protein, and B vitamins.

Protein Research (30/30/30; Satiety; Weight loss; Sarcopenia)

  1. There is a growing body of evidence that shows that beef can actually help satisfy your hunger and maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that eating a higher protein breakfast, such as one including a high-quality protein like beef, boosts satiety and reduces hunger and brain responses involved with food cravings more than a typical ready-to-eat breakfast that is lower in protein.
  3. Currently, Americans consume 2/3 of their total daily protein intake at dinner, which doesn’t leave much room for protein at other meals. However, new research shows that distributing protein evenly throughout the day - 25-30 grams per meal - may be the most beneficial for overall health and wellness benefits.
  4. Similar to osteoporosis – or bone loss – as we get older we can lose muscle mass, a condition called sarcopenia. Maintaining skeletal muscle in an older person requires a moderate serving of a high-quality protein source with each meal.

Lean Beef

  1. While grass-finished beef tends to be slightly leaner, leanness is better determined by grade and choosing the right cut than the way the animal was raised.
  2. Whether they are grass- or grain-finished, there are more than 30 cuts of beef that meet the government guidelines for “lean” including many consumer favorites such as tenderloin, strip steak and 95 percent lean ground beef.
  3. According to the USDA, a serving of beef qualifies as “lean” if it contains 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, less than 10 grams of total fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).
  4. Both grass-finished beef and grain-finished beef can meet the government guidelines for lean and provide consumers with more than 10 percent of 10 essential nutrients including zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins.


  1. Farmers and ranchers spend significant time and resources ensuring that the genetics they select for their herd improve the overall leanness and quality of the beef they are serving to America’s consumers.
  2. A farmer or rancher who raises grass-finished beef raises a herd with different genetic factors than a farmer or rancher who produces grain-finished beef.

Fat Reduction Efforts

  1. Beef nutrition begins on the farm with genetic selection in order to produce leaner beef for consumers.
  2. A variety of feed ingredients are used to help optimize cattle nutrient intake and maintain their natural muscle building ability, leading to leaner muscle composition instead of fat.
  3. Other developments have taken place in the slaughter plant, where fabrication employees trim much of the external fat off of beef primals. 
  4. Sixty-six percent of beef cuts sold at retail are lean after being cooked and trimmed, and thanks to these increased trimming practices, the external fat in retail cuts has decreased by 80 percent in the last 20 years. For example, sirloin steak now contains 34 percent less fat than it did in the 1960s.
  5. The quality grade can be an indicator of total fat content. For example, prime beef will have more fat than choice or select grade, across all cuts in the animal.
  6. The fatty acid profile of beef is unique in that it varies based on where the fat is actually located. The external fat on a cut of beef is mostly saturated fat, however, most of the external fat is removed during processing, trimming at the grocery store or by the consumer during meal preparation, so very little external fat is generally consumed.
  7. Intramuscular fat, or marbling, is rich in monounsaturated fats which make up more than 50 percent of the fatty acid profile of intramuscular fat.  Monounsaturated fats are the same kind of fat found in avocados and olive oil.
  8. Furthermore, beef is considered one of the top sources of monosaturated fat, which is the same kind of fat found in olive oil. About half of the fatty acids in beef are monosaturated fats.

Ground Beef (Fat Content – 90/10 and 80/20)

  1. Ground beef is one of most highly purchased and consumed beef products in the U.S., and many consumers are surprised to know that ground beef and hamburger are different products. You can clarify the difference for them by explaining that hamburger may have added beef fat mixed in, up to 30 percent, but ground beef may not have additional fat mixed into the grind.
  2. A grocery store may have three different kinds of ground beef for sale: 93/7, 90/10 and 80/20. The average consumer may not know that these numbers indicate the lean to fat ratio. You can explain that a 93/7 package of ground beef is 93 percent lean and 7 percent fat, 90/10 indicates 90 percent lean and 10 percent fat and 80/20 is 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat.
  3. A consumer who wants a leaner product should choose the 93 percent lean package of ground beef. Many people may prefer a higher fat content, such as 80/20, for things like burgers, as the higher fat adds flavor and juiciness.
  4. Many consumers may believe ground turkey or ground bison are leaner than ground beef. However, while bison is very lean, the fat content of any ground meat varies depending on the mix of lean and fat.
  5. Many restaurants tout turkey and veggie patties as “healthier” burgers but you’d have to check the nutrition info for their menu for fat content for a true comparison. Other ingredients, such as cheese and sauces, also impact the fat content of these sandwiches.
  6. A great conversation starter with a consumer who is concerned about the fat content of beef is to ask: which is leaner, ground beef, bison or turkey. The answer, of course, is “it depends.” You have to check the label in the store or ask for the menu nutrition info at your favorite restaurant to be sure.

BOLD Study

  1. Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet study, commonly called the BOLD study, found that when lean beef was included each day in a heart-healthy diet, LDL (bad) cholesterol was reduced 10 percent from baseline – virtually the same as when study participants followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, Diet which has been named the best overall diet by for five years running.
  2. Although BOLD and DASH diets are both rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, the diets differ in their primary protein source. The BOLD study included an average of 4.0 oz/day of lean beef, while the DASH diet included mostly white meat and plant protein and only 1.0 oz/day of lean beef.
  3. The BOLD study also found that the BOLD-PLUS diet, which included 5.4 oz lean beef per day, was more effective at reducing systolic blood pressure when compared to the other diets lower in total protein. These findings suggested that total protein, not type of protein, is important for eliciting reductions in systolic blood pressure.
  4. Overall, the BOLD study demonstrates that lean beef can play a crucial role in a healthful diet and shouldn’t be overlooked when making healthy food purchases for your family.

Other Chronic Diseases (Cancer; Diabetes)

  1. Media reports covering the latest study claiming a link between beef and chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes are often overstated, leading consumers to believe these associations have been proven.
  2. Many diet and health studies, however, are epidemiological studies that are useful in identifying potential associations between diet differences and disease occurrence, but not to pinpoint cause and effect.
  3. The fact of the matter is that the link between food and cancer is unknown. No single food has ever been proven to cause cancer. However, what most health experts do agree on is that the best way to avoid chronic disease is to maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Beef provides nutrients like zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins our bodies need to be physically active and high-quality protein, like beef, has been proven to help maintain a healthy weight.

Next Chapter: Choosing and Preparing Beef