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Why Joy Bauer got it wrong on beef & cholesterol

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images Turns out beef is a heart healthy food after all
If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, don’t shy away from red meat. Here’s why beef, not lentils, should be at the center of the plate.

Beef has long been a punching bag for nutritionists and health experts. Since the 1970s when the low fat, high carbohydrate phase hit the scene, Americans have been told to consume more grains and reduce our consumption of red meat. After nearly 50 years of bad advice, obesity rates have skyrocketed, with heart disease, diabetes and cancer rates following suit.

Fortunately, many experts are wising up to this bad science and are promoting red meat, dairy and eggs as critical components of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, the Today Show and the production’s leading daytime nutritionist, Joy Bauer, aren’t among those who are in tune to the benefits of beef in the diet.

To kick of February’s Heart Health Month, yesterday’s Today Show segment featured Bauer’s five food recommendations to lower your cholesterol. The list includes apples, lentils, avocados, oats and chia seeds.

During the segment, Bauer tells viewers that lentils can be used to fight cholesterol by replacing “fatty beef.” She boasts that lentils have 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber per cup and suggests that instead of beef, viewers should use lentils to make meatless burgers and sloppy joes.

However, she fails to mention that to get that boost of protein from lentils, one cup also contains 323 calories. On top of that, nobody is going to eat a plain cup of lentils; you’ll need to dress it up with sauces, breads and other additions to make it palatable! Pretty soon, that innocent cup of lentils is a fatty, carbohydrate-heavy meat substitute that doesn’t even compare in taste to that of beef.

Now take a closer look at beef. A 3-oz. serving of a beef tenderloin steak has 19 grams of protein for only 121 calories. While a cup of lentils has a whopping 36 grams of carbohydrates, beef is a carbohydrate-free, low-glycemic food, which means it will keep you full longer without spiking your blood sugar.

More than that, Bauer ignores that more than half of the fat found in beef is monounsaturated oleic acid, which is the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil and has been proven to help fight cholesterol.

Considering all of these facts, it’s really hard for me to comprehend why Bauer, and other nutritionists like her, insist on demonizing a simple, wholesome food like beef!

More than 70 million American adults are struggling with high cholesterol, and it’s a shame that the Today Show would perpetuate a meatless diet in order to combat this health problem. Red meat is a health food that has numerous benefits. Consider adding beef to the menu this February in honor of Heart Health Month!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.


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