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Red meat can be part of a healthy diet

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 10:29 a.m. CDT

From Nancy Degner, executive director of Iowa Beef Industry Council; and Marla Bickel


One of your (Creston News Advertiser) subscribers (a cattle producer) actually dropped off the Sept. 14 newspaper with concerns about the articles in the health section. In particular, "Curious about the Mediterranean Diet," as well as, "Live Long and Prosper! (without red meat)" recommend reducing or eliminating the intake of red meat for health reasons. I represent Iowa's beef producers through their beef checkoff programs so would like to take this opportunity reply to the articles.

The role of lean beef in a healthy, balanced diet is supported by strong scientific evidence and research continues to illustrate the critical role high-quality proteins, such as lean beef, play in muscle maintenance, weight management and disease prevention.

The most consistent finding about cancer research related to food intake is that it is inconsistent, and no evidence shows people should change the way they enjoy red meat as part of a healthy diet. The most important advice people can follow to decrease cancer risk are the dietary guidelines, which recommend a nutrient-rich, balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- and nonfat dairy and lean protein, like lean beef.

Leading health organizations, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), continue to recommend eating lean meat to maintain a healthful, balanced lifestyle.

Recent research also shows, contrary to conventional wisdom, that including lean beef, even daily as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle, improved cholesterol levels. The BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) study showed that when including lean beef to the most recommended heart-healthy diet it lowered heart disease risk by reducing levels of total and LDL "bad" cholesterol. The BOLD study provides convincing evidence that lean beef can be included in a heart healthy diet and improvements in heart-health risk factors are as effective as those from the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and other highly referenced heart-healthy diets, many of which emphasize plant proteins.

The foods you choose, including beef, combined with physical activity, can help you live vibrantly. People should have no doubts about choosing beef to be an important, wholesome, part of their balanced and nutritious diet.

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