Beef Nutritional Facts

Basic nutritional facts of beef

Beef Nutritional Profile


Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate

Protein: High

Fat: Moderate

Saturated fat: High

Cholesterol: Moderate

Carbohydrates: None

Fiber: None

Sodium: Low

Major vitamin contribution: B vitamins

Major mineral contribution: Iron, phosphorus, zinc


About the Nutrients in Beef


Like fish, pork, poultry, milk, and eggs, beef has high-quality proteins, with sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids. Beef fat is slightly more highly saturated than pork fat, but less saturated than lamb fat. All have about the same amount of cholesterol per serving.


Beef is an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, which is found only in animal foods. Lean beef provides heme iron, the organic iron that is about five times more useful to the body than non-heme iron, the inorganic form of iron found in plant foods. Beef is also an excellent source of zinc.


One 4-ounce serving of lean broiled sirloin steak has 9 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 101 mg cholesterol, 34 g protein, and 3.81 mg iron (25 percent of the RDA for a woman of childbearing age). One 4-ounce serving of lean roast prime rib has 16 g fat (6.6. g saturated fat), 92 mg cholesterol, and 2.96 mg iron.


Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food


Controlled-fat, low-cholesterol diet

Low-protein diet (for some forms of kidney disease)


Buying This Food


Look for: Fresh, red beef. The fat should be white, not yellow.


Choose lean cuts of beef with as little internal marbling (streaks of Eat) as possible. The leanest cuts are flank steak and round steak; rib steaks, brisket, and chuck have the most fat. USDA grading, which is determined by the maturity of the animal and marbling in meat, is also a guide to fat content. U.S. prime has more marbling than U.S. choice, which has more marbling than U.S. good. All are equally nutritious; the difference is how tender they are, which depends on how much fat is present.


Choose the cut of meat that is right for your recipe. Generally, the cuts from the center of the animal's backóthe rib, the T-Bone, the porterhouse steaksóare the most tender. They can be cooked by dry heatóbroiling, roasting, pan-frying. Cuts from around the legs, the underbelly, and the neckóthe shank, the brisket, the roundócontain muscles used for movement. They must be tenderized by stewing or boiling, the long, moist cooking methods that break down the connective tissue that makes meat tough.


Storing This Food


Refrigerate raw beef immediately, carefully wrapped to prevent its drippings from contaminating other foods. Refrigeration prolongs the freshness of beef by slowing the natural multiplication of bacteria on the meat surface. Unchecked, these bacteria will convert proteins and other substances on the surface of the meat to a slimy film and change meat's sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine into smelly chemicals called mercaptans. When the mercaptans combine with myoglobin, they produce the greenish pigment that gives spoiled meat its characteristic unpleasant appearance.


Fresh ground beef, with many surfaces where bacteria can live, should be used within 24 to 48 hours. Other cuts of beef may stay fresh in the refrigerator for three to five days.


Preparing This Food


Trim the beef carefully. By judiciously cutting away all visible fat you can significantly reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in each serving.


When you are done, clean all utensils thoroughly with soap and hot water. Wash your cutting board, wood or plastic, with hot water, soap, and a bleach-and-water solution. For ultimate safety in preventing the transfer of microorganisms from the raw meat to other foods, keep one cutting board exclusively for raw meats, fish, and poultry, and a second one for everything else. Finally, don't forget to wash your hands.

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