May is Beef Month: Beef is a part of tasty, healthy meals |

May is Beef Month: Beef is a part of tasty, healthy meals

Lisa Franzen-Castle Extension Nutrition Specialist

With thought and planning, beef can make meal times tasty and healthy. Lean beef is a naturally nutrient-rich source of several essential vitamins and minerals.

May is Beef Month, a good time to look at the beef cattle industry’s impact on Nebraska. According to the Nebraska Beef Council the industry has a $12.1 billion impact on the state’s economy. It’s the state’s single largest industry and the engine that powers the state’s economy.

Nebraska has the top three beef cow counties in the U.S., including Cherry County at No. 1, with Custer County ranking second, and Holt County ranking third.

Check out the following benefits and recommendations for beef and research through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).

Beef benefits, recommendations, and research:

• Health benefits. Protein in beef is a complete protein, so it supplies all the essential amino acids the body needs to build, maintain and repair tissues. It’s also a good source of iron, zinc and B vitamins, important for building muscles, healing wounds, and a healthy immune and nervous system.

• Lean beef. There are 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for being lean. Examples include eye round, top round, round tip, bottom round, sirloin, top loin, tenderloin, and flank. For ground beef, choose 95% lean ground beef most often.

• Reducing fat. Nutrition researchers found that rinsing cooked beef crumbles with water heated in the microwave on high for 5 to 6 minutes, reduced fat content by up to 50%. Blotting with paper towels can reduce the fat content of burgers, meatballs and meatloaf.

• Food safety. For refrigerator storage, follow the “use by” information on labels. When freezing beef, label each package with the date, name of cut and weight to help follow the “first in, first out” rule. Use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to a safe minimal internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Steaks and roasts should be cooked to 145 °F. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 °F.

• UNL Beef Research: Extensive research is being conducted on how to use ethanol by-products such as distillers grains, beet pulp from the sugar industry, and many crop residues such as cornstalks and wheat straw to produce high quality beef while reducing the cost of feed inputs and industry by-products that would have to be dealt with otherwise. The complex digestive system of cattle allows them to digest high fiber diets that humans cannot utilize. Cattle can then turn that fiber into highly nutritious protein readily digested and absorbed by people.

Beef not only helps most Americans meet their nutrient needs, but the beef industry also fuels Nebraska’s economy and affects almost every corner of the state. Nebraska produces more beef per square mile than any other state. By grazing cattle on land unsuitable for farming, more people are fed than would be possible otherwise.

More than 95 percent of ranches and farms are family operations, which provide habitat for 75 percent of America’s wildlife.

The Beef Quality Assurance program was initiated to assure animal health and well-being and also provide a safe product for humans.

The Panhandle Research and Extension Center is on the World Wide Web at

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