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Beef and Fat

With more than two-thirds of Americans classified as overweight or obese, consumers are looking for new ways to lead a healthy lifestyle, while still eating the foods they enjoy. Now, it's even easier for them to find lean beef at the grocery store or in restaurants.

The latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database indicates 19 cuts of beef meet government guidelines for lean, including many of America's favorites like tenderloin, T-bone steak and 95 percent lean ground beef.

Now, a new wallet card identifying these 19 lean cuts is available for consumers to download and conveniently carry.

"Beef is changing -- it's simply not your father's steak anymore," said Mary K. Young, M.S., R.D., executive director, nutrition, National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). "In fact, many people are surprised to learn that some of their favorite beef cuts are lean."

The updated version of the USDA Nutrient Database indicates that many cuts of beef are 20 percent leaner than they were 14 years ago. And, according to new research, consumers are increasingly choosing leaner cuts of beef in the grocery aisle.

In fact, 68 percent of all muscle cuts sold at retail and 17 of the top 20 most popular whole muscle cuts meet government guidelines for lean. The 19 lean cuts, beginning with the leanest, include: eye round roast, top round steak, mock tender steak, bottom round roast, top sirloin steak, round tip roast, 95 percent lean ground beef, brisket (flat half), shank crosscuts, chuck shoulder roast, arm pot roast, shoulder steak, top loin (strip or New York) steak, flank steak, ribeye steak, rib steak, tri-tip roast, tenderloin steak, and T-bone steak.

"There are now so many lean options for people who enjoy the great taste of beef," said Richard Chamberlain, chef and proprietor, Chamberlain's Restaurants and board member, Texas American Heart Association.

"Many of the most popular cuts in my restaurants, like top sirloin, tenderloin and top loin, are some of the leanest cuts available. Today, you don't have to sacrifice taste and enjoyment when trying to eat healthy."

These 19 beef cuts meet government guidelines for lean with less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. And, 12 of these beef cuts have, on average, only one more gram or less of saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast, per 3-ounce serving.

Beyond lean beef's favorable fat profile, beef is -- and has always been -- a nutrient-rich powerhouse. Just one 3-ounce serving of beef is an excellent source of five essential nutrients: protein, zinc, vitamin B12, selenium and phosphorous, and a good source of four essential nutrients: niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin.

In addition, beef's fat profile is generally misunderstood. Half the fatty acids in a 3-ounce serving of lean beef are monounsaturated fatty acids -- the same heart-healthy kind found in olive oil that research shows may have cholesterol-lowering abilities.

And, one third of the saturated fat in beef is a unique fatty acid called stearic acid, which has been found to have a neutral or cholesterol-lowering effect.

"Research shows lean beef can play the same role as skinless chicken or fish in a cholesterol-lowering diet," said Dayle Hayes, M.S., R.D., member of the Council for Women's Nutrition Solutions (CWNS). "In addition, beef provides essential nutrients that can have a positive effect on some of today's major health issues like weight management and bone health."

Click here to get your free, printable lean list wallet card.

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