The Truth About Beef: Top Questions & Partnership Insights

I’m here to show you that Beef’s nutrients can offer many health benefits. It’s time to debunk misconceptions about red meat.

But first, I think it’s important to understand how my personal journey and cultural background impacted my food choices throughout the years. Lean beef is not only a part of my cultural heritage, but also a scientifically proven component of a heart-healthy dietary pattern. (1)

Growing up in Peru, beef was a staple in my diet. So, when I had the opportunity to start working with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a Contractor of the Beef Checkoff, you bet I was excited. I get questions often about beef, and including it as part of healthy diets, so I thought it was time to debunk some common misconceptions once and for all.

I’m going to answer 3 top questions I am asked and share some facts about beef along the way.

Question #1: How did you get into dietetics?

At the age of 20 I moved to the United States from my home in Peru. As a young man whose mother used to cook all his meals for him at home, I had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen. So, I went out to eat all the time.

After a year of living in the US I missed my mother’s cooking and its connection with almuerzo – our main meal and time to gather during lunch. And honestly, I was just tired of eating out, and was gaining weight.

I had my mom send me my favorite recipes from home in a letter – yes, I’m making myself sound old. The first dish I made was Lomo Saltado, and trust me, I burned it the first two times.

How Cooking Took Me Down a Different Path

Learning to cook literally changed my life. I was pre-med and even applied to medical schools. But I made a last-minute decision to not become a doctor, rather a dietitian, because I knew that you can prevent disease through good nutrition.

I see food as three things:

  1. I see food as fuel.
  2. I see food as a tool in preventative medicine – I came to understand that what we eat is at the root of disease – the cause and the cure – and that my healing quest would come through food. So, I embarked on a journey to prevent disease through proper nutrition, teaching others the art of balanced eating and the science behind it.
  3. I see food as love.

Question #2: Why Did You Want to Partner with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association?

There are a lot of misconceptions that beef is unhealthy. So, I partnered with the Nutrition Team at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and use my Caliente Kitchen show to provide educatement. Educatement is educating while entertaining so you can learn more about the role of beef in healthy dietary patterns, all while enjoying some delicious recipes.  

There is a large body of research that shows that eating lean beef as part of an overall heart healthy dietary pattern can help maintain normal cholesterol levels. (1,3,4,6,7,8,9,10)

Beef in My Diet

Beef is something that has been included in my diet since I was a child. My comfort food is Seco de Carne. This dish is LOVE to me but can also be fuel and nutritious to boost your health. another recipe you can find on my blog.

And as a dietitian, I understand the different cuts of meat so that I can choose lean options that are good for my health and can help you make the same healthy choices. My role is to educate people on the facts and science to clear up the air. Nutrition is not a philosophy, it’s a science.

Question #3: How Often Can You Eat Beef?

Many clients come to me with the assumption that they have improved their diet by completely cutting out red meat. But I challenge them – what nutrients could they be missing by excluding lean beef from their diet?

Healthy Fat in Beef

This may surprise you, but approximately half of beef’s fat content is monounsaturated fat, the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil and avocados. And, beef is a high-quality source of protein that offers 10 essential nutrients, including zinc, iron, selenium, and B vitamins!(2)

How to Choose Lean Cuts

The key is just to select the lean cuts that will be heart-healthy, such as Strip Steak, Flank Steak, and Top Round Steak that are at least 90% lean. You can enjoy lean cuts multiple times a week while following a healthy eating pattern rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

Final Thoughts on the Truth About Beef

So, as you can see, beef isn’t what many people make it out to be. With a little time spent finding the right lean cuts, you can include beef in your nutritious and well-rounded weekly meal rotation.

For more key facts and beef recipe ideas, visit Beef. Its What’s For Dinner.


  1. Maki, K.C., Van Elswyk, M.E., Alexander, D.D., Rains, T.M., Sohn, E.L., McNeill, S. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that compare the lipid effects of beef versus poultry and/or fish consumption. J Clin Lipidol 2012; 6(4): 352-361.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2019. FoodData Central. (Beef composite, cooked – NDB Number: 13364).
  3. O’Connor, L.E., Campbell, W.W. Red Meat and Health: Getting to the Heart of the Matter. Nutr Today 2017a; 52(4): 167-173.
  4. O’Connor, L.E., Kim, J.E., Campbell, W.W. Total red meat intake of ≥0.5 servings/d does not negatively influence cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systemically searched meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2017b; 105(1): 57-69.
  5. 9 CFR § 317.362, Nutrient content claims for fat, fatty acids, and cholesterol content.
  6. Fleming, J.A., Kris-Etherton, P.M., Petersen, K.S., Baer, D.J. Effect of varying quantities of lean beef as part of a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern on lipids and lipoproteins: a randomized crossover controlled feeding trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2021; 113(5): 1126-1136.
  7. Maki, K.C., Wilcox, M.L., Dicklin, M.R., Buggia, M., Palacios, O.M., Maki, C.E., Kramer, M. Substituting Lean Beef for Carbohydrate in a Healthy Dietary Pattern Does Not Adversely Affect the Cardiometabolic Risk Factor Profile in Men and Women at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr 2020; 150(7): 1824-1833.
  8. O’Connor, L.E., Paddon-Jones, D., Wright, A.J., Campbell, W.W. A Mediterranean-style eating pattern with lean, unprocessed red meat has cardiometabolic benefits for adults who are overweight or obese in a randomized, crossover, controlled feeding trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2018; 108(1): 33-40.
  9. Roussell, M.A., Hill, A.M., Gaugler, T.L., West, S.G., Heuvel, J.P., Alaupovic, P., Gillies, P.J., Kris-Etherton, P.M. Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet study: effects on lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins. Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 95(1): 9-16.
  10. Sayer, R.D., Speaker, K.J., Pan, Z., Peters, J.C., Wyatt, H.R., Hill, J.O. Equivalent reductions in body weight during the Beef WISE Study: beef’s role in weight improvement, satisfaction and energy. Obes Sci Pract 2017; 3(3): 298-310.

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