Summer Barbecues Enhanced by Healthier Beef

May 8, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. — It's time for summer barbecues, and National Beef Month is a great time to grill some healthy beef.

May is National Beef Month, and producers are celebrating an important contributor to Nebraska's economy. Despite stereotypes about beef, it does carry many health benefits when eaten safely, said Kayla Colgrove, University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension educator.

Beef includes complete proteins, which help the body repair tissues and provides energy. It also provides other vitamins such as zinc and iron that help heal wounds and strengthen the immune system.

Finding the right lean cuts will help consumers take advantage of these health benefits. Some lean cuts include sirloin, tenderloin and flank, which might come in the form of steaks or roasts. A wallet card to help with selection is available at http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/CMDocs/BIWFD/29%20lean%20cuts%20wallet%20card.pdf.

"Look for 'loin' or 'round' in the name to find lean cuts," Colgrove said. "For ground beef, choose 95 percent lean ground beef most often."

Portion size is an important aspect as well. Colgrove suggests imagining a deck of cards to meet the recommended 3 ounce portion size for beef. The Daily Food Plan at choosemyplate.gov will help determine the right portion size for each person based on age, sex, weight, height and physical activity.

"People eat and drink more when served larger portions," Colgrove said. "Choosing a smaller portion can help you lose weight and keep it off."

Safe cooking is another step in safe beef consumption. Cooking the meat to a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees for steaks and roasts and 160 degrees for hamburgers will cut down on the risk of foodborne illness.

"The only way to reduce pathogens in food to safe levels is to cook it to its minimum internal temperature," Colgrove said. "You can't tell by looking at it, so use a food thermometer to be sure food is cooked to the minimum internal temperature."

More information on National Beef Month and other national food months and weeks to celebrate is available at food.unl.edu.

Kayla Colgrove
Extension Educator, Gage County
402-223-1384
kayla.colgrove@unl.edu

Kristina Jackson
Student Writer
IANR News Service

Sandi Karstens
IANR News Service
402-472-3030
skarstens2@unl.edu