Beef or beef is a globally consumed food that has many health benefits, while it has been linked to not a few health problems.
Beef is the meat of cattle, beef (Bos taurus), also known as beef.
It is classified as red meat, a term used for mammalian meat , which contains greater amounts of iron than chicken or fish.
It is usually eaten roasted, such as ribs or fillets, although it is also commonly ground or chopped. Ground beef is often used in hamburgers.
Depending on the countries and their customs, there are different cuts of beef , as well as very different ways of preparing and consuming it.
Products processed beef include corned beef, dried meat and sausages.
Fresh lean beef is rich in various vitamins and minerals , especially iron and zinc, so it is recommended as part of a healthy diet .
Beef is mainly composed of proteins and contains different amounts of fat , depending on the cut in question.
The following table presents information on all the nutrients in beef, considering 100 grams of lean meat:
- Calories : 120 kcal.
- Proteins : 20.30g
- Cholesterol : 59 mg
- Fat : 4.30 g
- Iron : 2.10 mg
- Calcium : 7 mg
- Fiber : 0 g
- Potassium : 350 mg
- Iodine : 6 mg
- Carbohydrates : 0 g.
- Magnesium : 20 mg
- Sodium : 61 mg
- Vitamin A : some traces
- Vitamin B1 : 0.07 mg.
- Vitamin B2 : 0.24 mg.
- Vitamin B3 : 9.50 mg.
- Vitamin B5 : 0.70 ug.
- Vitamin B6 : 0.32 mg.
- Vitamin B7 : some traces
- Vitamin B9 : 10 ug.
- Vitamin B12 : 2 ug.
- Vitamin C : 0 mg
- Vitamin D : 0 ug.
- Vitamin E : 0.15 mg.
- Vitamin K : 6 ug.
- Phosphorus : 180 mg
- Purines : 0 mg.
If we now measure 100 grams of ground beef, roasted, with 10% fat, we find that the values change, multiplying significantly in some cases:
- Number of Calories: 217
- Water : 61%
- Proteins : 26.1 g
- Carbohydrates : 0 g
- Sugar : 0 g
- Fiber : 0 g
- Fat : 11.8 g, of which:
-Saturated: 4.63 g
-Monounsaturated: 4.94 g
-Polyunsaturated: 0.42 g
- Omega 3 : 0.05 g
- Omega 6 : 0.33 g
- Transgenic fats: 0.37 g
Meat, like beef, is composed mainly of proteins.
The protein content of lean and cooked beef ranges from 26-27%.
The animal protein is usually of high quality and contains the 8 essential amino acids necessary for the growth and maintenance of our body.
The building blocks of proteins, amino acids, are very important from the point of view of health. Its protein composition varies widely, depending on the food source.
Meat is one of the most complete dietary sources of protein, the amino acid profile being almost identical to that of our own muscles.
For this reason, eating meat , or other sources of animal protein, can be of particular benefit after surgery and for recovering athletes , or during other conditions in which muscle tissue is being built.
Protein is the main nutritional component of meat. Beef protein is highly nutritious and can promote muscle maintenance and growth.
Beef contains varying amounts of fat , also called tallow .
In addition to adding flavor, fat greatly increases the caloric content of meat.
The amount of fat in beef depends on the level of cut and the age, breed, sex and feeding of the animal. Processed meat products, such as sausages and salami, tend to be high in fat.
Low-fat meat , often called lean meat, usually has between 5 and 10% fat.
Beef is mainly composed of saturated and monounsaturated fat, present in approximately equal amounts. The main fatty acids are stearic acid, oleic acid and palmitic acid.
Beef contains varying amounts of fat (mainly saturated and monounsaturated), which contributes substantially to its energy content.
Trans fats of ruminants
Food products from ruminants , such as cows and sheep, contain trans fats known as trans ruminant fats.
Unlike their industrial production counterparts, trans fats from natural ruminants are not considered unhealthy.
The most common of these is conjugated linoleic acid (LAC), which is found in beef, lamb and dairy products.
Conjugated linoleic acid has been linked to several health benefits, especially with regard to weight loss, but large doses in supplements can have harmful metabolic consequences .
A portion of the fat content of beef is made up of trans fats from ruminants, including conjugated linoleic acid (LAC). Trans fats from ruminants have been linked to several health benefits, such as weight loss.
Vitamins and minerals
The following vitamins and minerals are abundant in beef:
- Vitamin B12: Animal foods, such as meat, are the only dietary sources of vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that is important for the formation of blood and the function of the brain and nervous system.
- Zinc : Beef is very rich in zinc, a mineral that is important for the growth and maintenance of the body.
- Selenium : Meat is generally a rich source of selenium, an essential trace element that has a variety of functions in the body.
- Iron : It is found in large quantities in beef, the iron in meat is mainly in the form of heme, which is absorbed very efficiently.
- Niacin : One of the B vitamins, also called vitamin B3. Niacin has several important functions in the body. Low niacin consumption has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
- Vitamin B6 : A family of B vitamins, important for the formation of blood.
- Phosphorus : Widely present in food, phosphorus intake is generally high in the western diet. It is essential for the growth and maintenance of the body.
Beef contains many other vitamins and minerals in lower amounts.
Processed beef products, such as sausages, may contain particularly high amounts of sodium (salt).
Meat is an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, iron, niacin and vitamin B6.
Other meat compounds
Like plants, animals contain a series of bioactive substances and non-essential antioxidants, which can affect health when consumed in adequate amounts.
- Creatine : Abundant in meat, creatine serves as a source of energy for the muscles. Creatine supplements are commonly taken by bodybuilders and can be beneficial for muscle growth and maintenance.
- Taurine : Found in fish and meat, taurine is an antioxidant amino acid, which is a common ingredient in energy drinks. It is produced by our own body and is important for the functioning of the heart and muscles.
- Glutathione : An antioxidant found in most whole foods, glutathione is particularly abundant in meat. It is found in higher amounts in grass-fed beef than in grain-fed meat.
- Conjugated linoleic acid (LAC): A trans fat of ruminant that can have several health benefits when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
- Cholesterol : A sterol found in animal fats and that is also produced by the human body, where it has many functions. Dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol and, therefore, is not considered a health problem.
Animal meat contains a series of bioactive substances, such as creatine, taurine, conjugated linoleic acid (LAC) and cholesterol.
Health Benefits of Beef
Beef is a rich source of high quality protein and several vitamins and minerals , and can be an excellent component of a healthy diet.
Maintenance of muscle mass
Like all types of meat, beef is an excellent source of high quality protein .
It contains all the essential amino acids and is known as a “complete” protein source.
Many people, especially the elderly, do not consume enough high quality protein.
An inadequate protein intake can accelerate and worsen age-related muscle wasting , which increases the risk of an adverse condition known as sarcopenia .
Sarcopenia is a serious health problem among the elderly, but it can be prevented or improved with strengthening exercises and increased protein consumption.
The best sources of protein in the diet are foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish and dairy products.
In the context of a healthy lifestyle, regular consumption of beef , or other sources of high quality protein, can help preserve muscle mass, reducing the risk of sarcopenia.
As a rich source of high quality protein, beef can contribute to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass.
Improved exercise performance
Carnosine is an important dipeptide for muscle function.
It is formed in the body from beta-alanine, a dietary amino acid found in large quantities in fish and meat, such as beef.
In human muscles, high levels of carnosine have been linked to reduced fatigue and improved performance during exercise.
Supplementation with high doses of purified beta-alanine for 4-10 weeks leads to a 40-80% increase in carnosine levels in the muscles.
In contrast, following a strict vegetarian diet can lead to lower levels of carnosine in the muscles over time.
This indicates that eating meat and fish regularly, or taking beta-alanine supplements, can improve exercise performance.
Beef has a high carnosine content, which can reduce fatigue and improve performance during exercise.
Anemia is a common condition, characterized by a decrease in the amount of red blood cells and a reduction in the ability of blood to transport oxygen.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anemia, whose main symptoms are tiredness and weakness.
Beef is a source rich in iron, mainly in the form of heme-iron.
Only found in animal foods, heme-iron is often very low in vegetarian diets, especially in vegan diets.
Hemohierro is absorbed much more efficiently than non-heme iron , the type of iron found in plant-based foods.
Meat not only contains a highly bioavailable form of iron, but also improves the absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods , a mechanism that has not been fully explained and is known as the “meat factor.”
For this reason, including meat in a meal can increase the absorption of iron from other components of the meal.
Some studies have shown that beef can increase non-heme iron absorption, even in foods containing phytic acid , an iron absorption inhibitor.
Another study found that meat supplements were more effective than iron tablets for maintaining iron status in women during a period of exercise.
Simply put, eating meat is one of the best ways to prevent iron deficiency anemia .
Beef is an excellent source of iron and can help prevent anemia when consumed regularly.
Beef and heart disease
Heart disease (cardiovascular disease) is the most common cause of premature death in the world.
It is a term for various adverse conditions related to the heart and blood vessels, such as heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure.
The results of observational studies on red meat and heart disease are mixed.
Some studies find a higher risk for both processed and unprocessed red meat, while others find a higher risk for processed meat only .
Other studies find no significant effects .
Keep in mind that observational studies cannot prove causation . They can only prove that meat consumers are more or less likely to get a disease.
Many health conscious people avoid red meat because it has been said that it is unhealthy , and people who eat meat are less likely to eat fruits, vegetables and fiber, less likely to exercise, and more likely to be overweight.
Therefore, it is possible that the consumption of meat is no more than a marker of unhealthy behavior , and that this is not caused by the meat itself.
Of course, most observational studies try to correct these factors , but the accuracy of statistical adjustments is not always perfect.
It is not clear whether beef consumption increases the risk of heart disease or not. Some studies have found a relationship, but not others.
Beef contains saturated fat
Several theories have been proposed as a possible relationship between meat consumption and the risk of heart disease .
The most popular of these is the dietary heart hypothesis, the idea that saturated fats raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.
However, many recent high-quality studies have not found any significant relationship between saturated fat intake and heart disease.
Lean meat should definitely not be feared . It has been shown to have positive effects on cholesterol levels.
In the context of a healthy lifestyle, moderate amounts of unprocessed lean beef are unlikely to have adverse effects on heart health.
Fat beef is a source rich in saturated fats, which can increase blood cholesterol. However, the relationship between saturated fats and heart disease has been discussed in several recent high quality studies.
Beef and cancer
Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide.
Many observational studies have linked high meat consumption with an increased risk of colon cancer.
However, not all studies have found a significant association . Several components of the red canine have been discussed as possible culprits:
- Iron wire: Some researchers have proposed that heme iron may be responsible for the carcinogenic effect of red meat.
- Heterocyclic amines : A class of carcinogenic substances, produced when meat is overcooked.
- Other substances that are formed during curing and smoking, or that are added to processed meats.
Heterocyclic amines are a family of carcinogenic substances that are formed during high-temperature cooking of animal proteins, especially when frying, baking or grilling. They are found in well cooked and overcooked meats, poultry and fish.
These substances may partly explain the relationship between red meat and cancer.
A large number of studies indicate that eating well-made meat , or other dietary sources of heterocyclic amines, may increase the risk of several types of cancer.
These include colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer .
One of these studies found that women who ate well-cooked meat regularly had a 4.6 times higher risk of breast cancer.
Taken together, there is clearly some evidence that eating large amounts of well-cooked meat may increase the risk of cancer.
However, it is not entirely clear whether it is specifically due to heterocyclic amines or other substances that are formed during high temperature cooking.
The increased risk of cancer may also be related to unhealthy lifestyle factors that are often associated with high meat consumption. These include the low consumption of fruits, vegetables and fiber.
For optimal health, it seems sensible to limit the consumption of overcooked beef. Steaming, boiling and frying at low temperatures are probably the healthiest cooking methods.
High consumption of well or overcooked meat may increase the risk of several types of cancer.