Diana Nelson

Beef’s Effects On Health

Eating meat has a positive effect on the body as it is a source of amino acids for protein synthesis, vitamins and trace elements.


In 1460 the English chef Baltis Platinus writes The Book of Cookery in which he gives a recipe for ‘beefsteak.’ From then on, it entered English culinary tradition. The apotheosis of this fashion was in 1735 when the Steak Society was formed. It brought together royalty, aristocrats and celebrities who had loved the dish for over a hundred years. The society evolved into a private club, giving gourmets the recipe for club steak. Beef and beef steaks are a great addition to the diet and have preserved their popularity among many meat lovers these days.

Beef – Nutrition facts

Beef steak has high energy value, a great amount of protein and not a big amount of fat. Beef steak contains zero carbs, sugar and fibre. And zero glycemic index, meaning it does not affect your blood sugar at all. Also, beef steak has medium iron, high vitamin B12 and a great amount of selenium.

Source: USDA
source: USDA

Beef – Good ‘protein’ news

Beef is a rich source of top-quality protein as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. It can, therefore, be an excellent component of a healthy diet.

1Rich in protein

Beef consists mainly of protein and varying amounts of fat. Animal protein is usually of a high quality, containing eight essential amino acids needed to grow and maintain your body. Being the building blocks of proteins, amino acids are very important from a health perspective. Their composition in proteins varies greatly depending on the food source. Meat is one of the most complete sources of protein and its amino acid profile is almost identical to that of your own muscles.

This is why eating meat or other sources of animal protein can be particularly beneficial after surgery and for recovering athletes. Combined with strength training, it also helps to maintain and build muscle mass.

2Good source of fat content

Fat is the richest dietary source of energy and supplies essential nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids, but must be consumed in moderation.

Beef contains varying amounts of fat also called beef fat. As well as imparting flavour, the fat significantly increases the calorific value of the meat. The amount of fat in beef depends on the degree of deboning, age, breed, sex, and feed of the animal. Processed meat products, such as sausages and salamis usually contain a lot of fat. Beef mainly consists of saturated and monounsaturated fats, present in approximately equal amounts. The main fatty acids are stearic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid.


3Can increase muscle mass

Although meat is a particularly popular food around the world, many people do not eat enough of it. Insufficient protein intake can accelerate age-related muscle loss, increasing the risk of developing an adverse condition known as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a serious health problem for the elderly, but it can be prevented or reversed with exercise and increased protein intake.

In terms of a healthy lifestyle, regular consumption of beef or other sources of high-quality protein can help to maintain muscle mass, reducing the risk of sarcopenia.

4Prevention of anaemia

Anaemia is a widespread condition characterised by a decrease in the number of red blood cells and a decrease in the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anaemia. The main symptoms are tiredness and weakness.

Beef is a rich source of iron – mostly in the form of heme iron. Heme iron is only found in animal products, so vegetarian and vegan diets are usually very low in it.

What is interesting is that our body absorbs haemic iron much more efficiently than non-haemic iron, the type of iron in plant-based foods.

In this way, meat not only contains a highly bioavailable form of iron, but it also improves the absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods – a mechanism that is not fully explained and is called the ‘meat factor.’

5Promotes physical performance

Research suggests that protein, especially beef protein supplements, can be a potentially useful strategy for maximising workout-related improvements in body composition and performance. Beef protein supplements may be effective in increasing total daily protein intake and suggest that they may also be beneficial for lower limb muscle strength.

Another study tells us that muscles contain an important compound called carnosine. It is a component important for muscle function. Interestingly, high levels of carnosine are associated with reduced fatigue and improved performance during exercise. Carnosine is formed in the body from beta-alanine, a dietary amino acid found in large quantities in fish and meat, including beef. In reverse, following a strict vegetarian diet can lead to a reduction in muscle carnosine levels over time.

Beef – Bad news

Beef is associated with several unfavourable health conditions that you should be aware of.

Beef tapeworm

The beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata) is an intestinal parasite that can sometimes reach a length of 13-33 ft (4-10 m). It is rare in most developed countries but relatively common in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. Consumption of raw or undercooked (rare) beef is the most common way of becoming infected. Beef tapeworm infection, or tenidosis, usually causes no symptoms. However, severe infection can lead to weight loss, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Excessive iron overload

Beef is one of the richest dietary sources of iron. In some people, eating foods rich in iron can cause a condition known as iron overload. The most common cause of the iron overload is hereditary haemochromatosis, a genetic disease characterised by excessive iron absorption from food.

People with haemochromatosis should limit their consumption of red meat, such as beef and lamb.

Cost-efficiency of beef

Beef is one of the most expensive meats but still has an excellent protein content compared to other meats. Of course, beef is not as cheap as pork, but it is certainly healthier than it. However, if you consume beef, it is better to prioritise the quality over price.

Cost of protein in different foods, stats Source: Healthypedia

Fun & curious facts about beef

  • Beef protein is a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids needed to maintain and repair body tissues.

  • The word ‘steak’ comes from a derivative of the word ‘stick’ – it used to be ‘steik,’ meaning meat on a stick.

  • The red juice in the meat is not actually blood. There is very little blood left in the animal’s muscle tissue. This red liquid is water mixed with a protein called myoglobin.

Beef in the Blue Zones

The Blue Zones’ approach to eating meat is quite simple just think of meat as a celebratory meal. Portions should be no bigger than a deck of cards, once or twice a week. Also, longlivers avoid processed meat.

Beef. Experiment by our expert

We introduce one of our Healthypedia personal testers. Michael Freeman is a big health enthusiast, has a great shape in his 50s, and is metabolically healthy! He tested beef for us with his continuous glucose monitor. Let’s look at the results.
Beef and blood glucose impact Nutrition
Blood glucose

I am a meat eater, I have to admit it. In my childhood, meat was rare on our plates because it was very expensive compared to our large family’s income. It was like a celebratory thing for us. As soon as I could afford it in my adulthood, I started to think that I had to eat meat every day. However, on my way to a healthy diet and lifestyle, I realised that it was not the most brilliant idea. Now I eat meat a couple of times a week and feel good. I have to say that a good steak, especially from grass-fed cows, is full of great nutritional content – both macro and micro. Additionally, the reaction of my blood glucose is very positive – pure steak doesn’t have any influence on my glucose level. Of course, whether to eat meat or not is a personal choice based on preferences, values, and principles. However, my recommendation is simple. If you decide to eat meat, don’t do it too often and make your choice based more on quality rather than price.

Healthypedia - Michael Freeman
Michael Freeman Health and Longevity Enthusiast, 50

Let’s sum beef up

Eating meat can provide you with high-quality protein and healthy fats that can be a source of energy and essential nutrients like fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. In addition, it can help you improve your muscle mass, prevent anaemia, and increase endurance during exercise.

For people with a genetic disorder that causes excessive iron absorption from food, it is important to avoid beef consumption and to cook meat thoroughly to avoid parasite contamination, which is relatively uncommon in developed countries.

Not enough? Here is more

Here is a video of Dr. Eric Berg who specialises in Healthy Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting. He is the director of Dr. Berg’s Nutritionals and a best-selling author. In this video, Dr. Berg will tell you about red meat and whether is it good for you or not.

Healthypedia FAQ

If you eat red meat, limit consumption to no more than about three portions per week. Three portions are equivalent to 350–500g (about 12–18oz) of cooked weight.

The meat should have a good colour and look moist but not wet. The edges of the cuts should be smooth, not torn. When you buy packaged meat, avoid meat that is torn or has liquid at the bottom of the tray. The meat should be firm and cold to the touch.

You can cook beef in different ways: roast, braise, bake in the oven with vegetables and spices, or simply boil it.

Raw beef should be stored in a bowl or on a dish at the bottom of the refrigerator. The temperature in the refrigerator should be no higher than 40 °F (4.4 °C).

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