All about beef

Published 4:08 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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When it comes to comfort food, many can’t imagine anything more satisfying than a thick, juicy hamburger, a savory roast, or a tender filet mignon. Beef is the culinary name for meat from cattle. In prehistoric times humans hunted “aurochs” and then later domesticated them. Aurochs are an extinct cattle species, considered to be the wild ancestor of modern domestic cattle. Since then, numerous breeds of cattle have been bred for the quality and quantity of their meat. Beef is the third most widely consumed meat in the world, after pork and chicken. 

Cattle are “ruminant” animals, meaning they are hoofed mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach with four compartments. The word “ruminant” comes from the Latin “ruminare,” which means “to chew.” Ruminating animals include all domesticated and wild bovine (cattle), goats, sheep, giraffes, deer, gazelles, and antelope. 

   There are traditionally eight different whole-dressed sections of beef, which include the rib, flank, loin, round, chuck, brisket, shank, and short plate. These larger portions yield up to 45 different cuts, usually as steaks, ribs, roasts, tips, or cubes. It is also commonly ground or minced. Beef is categorized as red meat, which contains higher amounts of iron than chicken or fish. Beef is also redder in color than pork, chicken, or fish because it contains more myoglobin, a protein found in striated muscle. 

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Here are a few of beef’s health benefits. The protein content of lean-cooked beef is about 26-27%, making it a very high-quality protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids needed for growth and maintenance by the body. Beef also provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, an animal-derived nutrient crucial for blood cell formation, and brain and nervous system support. Beef is also a good source of zinc, a mineral that is necessary for the body’s proper cellular growth and development, and selenium, an essential trace element that is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins, that help the body produce DND and protect against cell damage and infections. It is also a good source of iron, a mineral that is a major component of hemoglobin, a type of protein/iron-rich “glue” that “sticks” oxygen to red blood cells, and carries it from the lungs to all parts of the body. Niacin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus are found in beef as well.. 

There are eight total quality grades of beef. The lowest are utility, cutter, and canner. These cuts are seldom if ever sold at retail. Instead, they are used to make ground beef that is processed in products such as canned soups or frozen meals. Standard and commercial grades are sold as ungraded or store-brand meats. Select beef is very uniform in quality and leaner than higher grades. Choice beef is high quality, but with less marbling (the amount of fat interspersed within lean meat) than prime. Prime beef has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants.  

Now, some folks don’t consume certain meats or animal products, because of animal rights issues or religious beliefs. However, from a nutritional standpoint, much research has shown that in moderation, beef is a very healthful addition to the diet.  

The U.S. produces the most beef, worldwide, with 94.4 million cattle, supplying 25% of the world’s beef. Brazil is second with 31.7 beef cattle. The typical meat-eating American consumes 61 pounds of beef annually. Surprisingly, that’s less than at any time in history. Processed cattle supply much more than just meat. In fact, 98% of the animal is used after processing. Approximately 35% produces meat, while the rest is used for products such as pet food, leather, glue, gelatin, china, and soap, among other products. In fact, insulin, and more than 100 other medicines. come from cattle.

Also, much of your favorite sports equipment is made from cattle. The hide from one processed steer or heifer can be used to produce 12 basketballs, 144 baseballs, and 20 footballs or soccer balls.  

David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David At or text to 864-494-6215.