Consumers today are more open to the nutritional benefits of beef than at any other time since the Beef Checkoff began more than three decades ago, but getting here was not easy and required consistent long-term investment in nutrition research.
The Beef Checkoff was implemented at a time when U.S. Dietary Guidelines encouraged Americans to limit beef in their diet and reduce their intake of fat and cholesterol. This coincided with Americans’ growing interest in healthy lifestyles and it quickly became clear nutrition and health concerns could be a potential barrier to consumers eating beef.
In order to address the concerns and further understand beef’s role in health, the Checkoff began funding nutrition research. Through the years, the Checkoff has made significant contributions to the scientific understanding about beef’s role in health. And now, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) recommend introducing solid foods, like beef, to infants and toddlers, in order to make every bite count with protein, iron, zinc and choline.
Two landmark studies reinforce that beef not only fits heart healthy diets but may also help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease when included in heart healthy diets. The Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) study found that people can enjoy 4-5½ ounces of lean beef daily, as part of a heart healthy lifestyle to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. The Mediterranean-style eating pattern study found that eating a Mediterranean diet that included 7-18 ounces of lean red meat per week can improve cardiometabolic disease risk factor profiles.
Recent studies have focused on the power of protein and its impact on physical and emotional strength. While other research has shown the importance of high-quality protein for the aging population, as well as demonstrating beef’s critical role in growth and development, especially as a high-quality source of iron for older infants, women, and girls.
Because of Checkoff-funded nutrition research, beef can now be Americans’ protein of choice in any gold standard heart healthy diet, and beef is consistently recommended by scientists, physicians and registered dietitians. In addition, 75% of consumers agree that beef is nutritious.
However, new challenges are on the horizon as the nutrition and public health community grapple with how to ensure everyone has access to sustainable healthy food. A key part of this will be maximizing nutrition with fewer calories making nutrient density an important cornerstone of how the world defines a healthy sustainable diet. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Beef Checkoff are already conducting research in these areas to help keep beef as a healthy choice for the center of the plate.
For more information, visit the Beef Research website.