You've heard it all before: Eating red meat will give you cancer. It'll lead to strokes. It'll kill you. The so-called "experts" have been issuing these warnings for years, so what's the truth?
Well, some vices - like wine and chocolate - have their virtues when consumed in moderation, and the same holds true for red meat. "Beef is nature's best-tasting multivitamin," says Dave Zino, executive chef of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. It's loaded with 10 essential nutrients, like zinc, iron, B vitamins, and protein." And, of course, it's considered something of a vice because we simply love to eat it.
"Beef is so flavorful, there's not much you have to do with it," says Pat LaFrieda, a fourth-generation New York butcher whose high-quality meat is served in over a thousand of the country's best restaurants. "All you have to do is grill it - and to finish it off, all you need is a knife and fork."
Whether your beef is braised, roasted, stewed, or grilled, it's time to explore the virtues of being a carnivore.
The Ultimate Muscle-Building Food
This protein-packed powerhouse has benefits beyond great taste.
Lean beef is a complete protein source, containing all the essential amino acids necessary for building and maintaining muscle mass.
A 3-oz serving of T-bone steak contains 22 grams of protein-which, if you're looking to shed a few pounds, can help you stave off hunger and feel fuller for longer.
A study conducted by Australia's national science agency found that overweight and obese men using a high-protein diet (with lean red meat) reduced ab fat more effectively than those on a high-carb plan.
Red meat provides the majority of zinc for most Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The high levels of zinc in red meat help ward off illness - and researchers believe zinc can reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms.
"Red meat also supplies vitamin B12," says Jim White, R.D., a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.
"This helps the body make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy."
A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who incorporated lean beef into their everyday diet experienced a 10% reduction in their LDL (bad) cholesterol.
The zinc in beef is essential for testosterone production - which helps boost sex drive - and can help reduce blood prolactin levels.
Prolactin is a brain chemical responsible for the refractory period: the amount of time it takes for you to get it back up for Rounds 2 and 3. Less prolactin, less recovery time, better you in the sack.
Mix It Up
Beef is high in umami, or "savoriness," according to Dave Zino, executive chef of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "Pair with other umami-rich foods such as red wine, mushrooms, aged cheeses, tomato-based products, peas, and corn," Zino says.
While quality cuts need little more than salt and pepper, you can spice up your meals with the "Flavor Boosters" below.
The Beef Checkoff says: Always marinate in the fridge, allow for ½ cup for every pound of beef, and pat dry before cooking to ensure even browning. Try these other marinades and dry rubs:
The Perfect Steak
Chef Michael Lomonaco of Porter House New York gives his secret to char-grilling tender cuts to perfection.
- 4 16-oz bone-in steaks
(like New York strip, T-bone or Cowboy rib eye),
about 1¼- to 1½-inches thick
- coarse kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
1/ Fill a steel charcoal chimney fire-starter with hardwood charcoal. Remove the grate and place chimney inside grill, with a few pieces of newspaper stuffed underneath the chimney.
2/ Light the newspaper to ignite the charcoal. The coals should be ready in about 15 minutes.
3/ Using heat-proof gloves, grab the chimney by its handle and invert it to release the coals into the grill. Return to the grill grate and allow to pre-heat for five minutes.
4/ Pat steaks dry and season with salt and pepper right before placing on the grill (salting the steaks too early will draw out moisture). Grill to desired doneness (four to five minutes per side for medium-rare).