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Beef 101 - Eating Smart FAQ

Eating Smart FAQ


Is grass fed beef more nutritious than grain fed beef?

All beef provides 14 essential nutrients plus energy. Preliminary studies have shown that grass fed beef has elevated levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). More research is required to determine whether these increased levels are high enough to provide positive health benefits.

I heard that beef takes 3 to 4 days to digest. Is this true?

A cut of beef is mainly made up of water and protein, with smaller amounts of fat and other vitamins and minerals. After we eat, the body is busy working to break down and absorb the nutrients in food. Protein is the main nutrient in beef. Protein is broken down into amino acids in the stomach and then absorbed in the small intestine. This whole process takes only about 4-12 hours. (The fat, vitamins and minerals are also digested within this time frame).

Protein helps us to grow, fight infections and to build and repair muscle and other tissue. Our bodies need protein and our digestive system is naturally built to digest and absorb it.

Red meat is just as easily absorbed as other sources of protein such as chicken, fish, and pork. Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide recommends 1 to 3 servings of Meat & Alternatives each day – one serving is:

  • 75 grams (2 1/2 oz) of lean meat, fish, shellfish or poultry
  • 175 mL (3/4 cup) cooked legumes (dried peas and beans), lentils or tofu
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) nuts and seeds
  • 30 mL (2 tablespoons) peanut butter

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide recommends 1-3 servings of Meat & Alternatives daily. How much is a 75 gram serving of beef?

A serving of 75 gram cooked lean beef is about the same size as:

  • 125 mL (1/2 cup)
  • two lipsticks

Is beef healthy to eat?

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide encourages Canadians to enjoy 1 to 3 servings (75 grams each) of Meat and Alternatives, such as lean beef, every day.

Lean beef is naturally nutrient-rich with 14 essential nutrients to help keep your body healthy and strong. Every serving of beef provides you with an excellent source of high quality protein, zinc, and vitamin B12

You can feel good about serving your family nutritious beef meals. Here are eight beef cuts to put on your grocery list:

  • Lean or Extra Lean Ground Round
  • Lean or Extra Lean Ground Sirloin
  • Lean or Extra Lean Ground Chuck
  • Eye of round
  • Inside round
  • Sirloin tip
  • Top sirloin
  • Flank
  • Strip loin
  • Cross rib
  • Outside round

I am trying to lose weight, should I cut out beef from my diet?

A University of British Columbia study compared diets of vegetarian, past vegetarian and non-vegetarian women and found no difference in weight among these three groups of health-conscious women.

To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, eat a variety of foods, follow Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide and enjoy physical activity on most days of the week.

Eating protein-rich foods, like lean beef, may help with achieving a healthy weight:

  • Including protein at meals and snacks can help you feel full and satisfied–that helps you manage the munchies and eat less. And when you eat less, you usually lose more weight.1,2
  • Studies show that our bodies naturally burn a few more calories when we eat protein-rich meals.3
  • Eating plenty of protein-rich foods may also help to reduce fat around the middle during weight loss and help you maintain a healthy weight.4, 5
  • Beef is packed full of essential health-promoting nutrients like protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc and can be included as part of a healthy weight loss diet.

1 Weigle DS et al. Am J Clin Nutr, 2005;82(1); 41-8.
2 Marmonier C et al. Appetite, 2000; 34(2):161-8.
3 Layman DK et al. J Nutr 2004; 134(4):S968-73.
4 Due A et al. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 2004; 28(10):1283-90.
5 Westerterp-Plantenga, MS et al. Int J Obes, 2004; 28(1): 57-64

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